A Yorkshire-based pharmacy chain is taking a new approach to hub and spoke in a first of a kind model to be used in the UK.
Lo’s Pharmacy will centralise its repeat prescription dispensing service for original packs with the support of its medication wholesaler.
The independent group, which has 25 NHS community pharmacies across Yorkshire, will install Centred Solution’s Automated FLOWRx Hub product at its central dispensing facility in Wath-Upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire. But unlike other FLOWRx customers, who pick packs from a robotic dispensing system or internal warehouse, Lo’s Pharmacy will receive patient-specific flow totes directly from their wholesaler which can then be processed by their hub.
This workflow has not been used anywhere else in the country until now and it is a revolutionary approach to hub and spoke dispensing, showing what can be achieved when key players decide to collaborate. It further demonstrates that there are range of variations of hub and spoke models available and accessible to independent and multiple community pharmacies across the UK.
How the solution will work
Branch pharmacies will perform the clinical and accuracy check and transmit a hub order for patients’ prescriptions using FLOWRx Instore directly to Lo’s Pharmacy’s preferred wholesaler. The wholesaler will then process the order and create patient-specific flow totes containing the exact amount of medication for a specific number of patients.
These patient-specific totes, filled with loose medications, will then be delivered to Lo’s Pharmacy hub where the tote will be scanned and then processed through the FLOWRx automatic labelling unit which scans the medication pack, assigns it for the correct patient and then automatically labels the pack. The medication will be processed into allocated patient baskets at a sortation station before being bagged, scanned and placed into branch totes ready to be delivered back to the pharmacy spoke.
Barcode and RFID technology adds additional safety checks to ensure the right pack is processed for the right patient. Any anomalies are flagged by the system and baskets are placed into a quarantine state where they must be checked and cleared by a pharmacist or ACT before they can continue to be processed.
Back at the pharmacy spoke, FLOWRx Instore will be used to process any exceptions that could not be dispensed at the hub, for example fridge items and controlled drugs, before the prescription is then dispensed to the patient.
An exciting new venture
"When we were looking to move to a hub and spoke model we knew we had to find the right workflow for our pharmacy group. We have worked closely with both Centred Solutions and our medication wholesaler to make our vision a reality and we are excited to be the first pharmacy group in the UK to run with this particular hub and spoke model,” said William Kong, Commercial Manager for Lo’s Pharmacy Group.
“We are confident that the hub and spoke model we are putting in place will free up our branch staff from logistical back room tasks so that they have more time to spend at the counter with patients or in the consulting room delivering both NHS and private services,” he said.
Paul O’Hanlon, Managing Director at Centred Solutions said: “It’s great to see Lo’s Pharmacy embracing hub and spoke and implementing a different workflow to our existing customers. No pharmacy is ever the same and so a one-size fits all approach is never going to work. We pride ourselves on having bespoke software and automation available to meet the differing needs of different pharmacy groups. This is yet another example of hub and spoke being a realistic and achievable option for pharmacies of all shapes and sizes.”