With lockdown urging everyone to stay home, how are public healthcare patients advised to collect their chronic medication? For those who live in and around Joburg and Bloemfontein, they can collect their monthly medicines in about three minutes from extremely advanced ‘ATM pharmacies’ set up by Right ePharmacy at busy locations close to where patients stay.
These ATM pharmacies are chronic medicine collection points which robotically dispense medication quickly and accurately so patients who depend on the public healthcare system don’t have to wait in long queues at their local clinic every month, potentially exposing themselves to Covid-19, when collecting repeat medication.
Fanie Hendriksz, managing director of Right ePharmacy, says, “We strongly urge patients to use the ATM pharmacies so that they don’t have to spend a long time in the queue at hospital or clinic pharmacies. It’s become more urgent than ever that we transfer patients to these fast and advanced ATM pharmacies.”
“We have seen a steep increase in patient numbers at our ATM pharmacies over the last couple of weeks and we have geared up for the increase. We’ve stepped up our hygiene practices with sanitiser available and ask patients to observe one metre social distance between each other so we all work together to ‘flatten the curve’. Telemedicine is really coming into its own at the moment. Pharmacists servicing patients remotely at the ATM pharmacies are based in Centurion and appear on screen to service and assist patients whether they are in Soweto, Diepsloot, Alexandra or Bloem.”
How to sign up
If you have a chronic condition and you are stable on your medicine, you can use the ATM pharmacies. Simply go to your usual clinic when you need your medication and a nurse will confirm whether you are eligible. You then complete a consent form and become registered. You will be given a two months’ supply of medication and you will be given a date for your next collection at an ATM pharmacy. On that day, go to the ATM pharmacy helpdesk with your ID or passport and clinic appointment card where you will be helped.
Locations and times
These advanced pharmacies are located in:
- Soweto: Baragwanath Mall in Diepsloot and Ndofaya Mall in Meadowlands
- Diepsloot: Bambanani Mall
- Alexandra: Alex Plaza and
- Bloemfontein: Twin City Mall in Mangaung (Free-State)
They are open from Monday to Friday from 7am – 6pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am – 2pm. The contact centre number is 0801 112 228.
Medicine is dispensed in a simple 5-step process:
- Patient scans barcode ID book, ID card or pharmacy card and enters PIN
- Patient talks to a remote pharmacist (like a Skype call)
- The prescription and items are selected
- The medicine is robotically dispensed and labelled and drops in the collection slot
- Patient takes the receipt which indicates next collection date.
Reminder SMSs are sent to patients who don’t collect their medicine to ensure adherence.
Research conducted by Right ePharmacy has shown that there is a 30% increase in patient satisfaction going to ATM pharmacies over clinics, waiting times reduce by 50% and there is an 80% reduction in dispensing errors. Patients speak one-on-one with tele-pharmacists.
Hendriksz concludes, “Our partnerships made this innovation possible and we are grateful to USAID and the Gauteng and Free State health departments which have worked with us to decongest public facilities and help ensure patients receive their monthly medication and stay on treatment particularly during Coronavirus lockdown.”
In the coming weeks, Right ePharmacy will announce further innovations to offer increased convenience and help keep those on chronic medications out of clinics.