Robots to help improve health care for patients at Heckmondwike pharmacy

Robots are coming to a pharmacy near you – and it’s all about improving health care for patients.

By Ian Hirst
Friday, 22nd January 2021, 3:30 pm

Pharmacy Wise, based at Heckmondwike Health Centre, wants to install a dispensing robot and it’ll be one of the first in the North of England.

Pharmacy Wise, formerly Rowlands Pharmacy, is investing in a state-of-the-art Medpoint dispensing robot in the shopfront outside, a kind of prescription vending machine.

The machine costs around £60,000 and is part of a major investment and store refurbishment by Leicester-based parent company Warwick Healthcare Ltd.

Pharmacy Wise, at Heckmondwike Health Centre

The company is currently seeking planning permission for the robot dispenser from Kirklees Council.

Nimesh Dhokia, a director at Warwick Healthcare, said the company had ordered three robot dispensers and the Heckmondwike installation would be one of the first in the North of England.

“It’s all about customer service and convenience,” said Mr Dhokia. “People are at home right now but that won’t be the case forever.

“Time is precious and people might want to pick up their meds at 9.30pm after they have done their shopping and with the dispensing robot they can do that.

“Patients use an app and scan the barcode on their prescription and receive a pin number when it’s ready to be collected. They can then go to the dispenser any time that suits them 24/7. They enter the pin number and the prescription is dispensed.

“With Covid we had a number of customers queuing out of the door and we want to roll out robots in all our pharmacies,” added Mr Dhokia. “We never want people queuing down the road again.”

Pharmacy Wise is a growing chain with pharmacies attached to medical centres, like the one in Union Street, Heckmondwike.

“Pharmacy is all about primary care now,” said Mr Dhokia. “We are in medical centres so we have plenty of space.

“Shops sales don’t do as well as they used to because of the supermarkets and their buying power so pharmacies have to keep relevant as an organisation.

“We will be running clinics and will have an audiologist who maybe rents a room. We are not just a traditional pharmacy. We are using our imagination to stay a little bit ahead.”