Here’s how AWS is powering local innovation

Interview with Fanie Hendrieksz, Managing Director of Right ePharmacy

  • What is Right ePharmacy?

Right ePharmacy is an innovative, strategic solution provider for the dispensing, distribution and collection of medicine. Right ePharmacy’s flagship product, the PDU, is an ATM-like innovation using electronic and robotic technology to dispense medication. The PDU uses AWS cloud based technology, to enable remote dispensing and live patient counselling. The cloud-based information system hosts and manages patient data and links the patient to a remote pharmacist via an audio-video link. This virtual consultation between the patient and the pharmacist is called tele-pharmacy.

Through AWS cloud, we were also able to implement a SMS system to keep users informed about their next collection dates and sends out reminders. This promotes patient retention and assists the early identification and intervention for patients at risk of non-adherence. The system results in positive clinical outcomes and effective patient data management. PDU collection sites can be placed in communities at central, easily accessible locations such as shopping centres on main transport routes and are open for extended hours, including weekends and public holidays. Patients can quickly and conveniently collect their repeat prescriptions. 

  • Why is this solution so valuable and what are the benefits?

Right ePharmacy is the centre of excellence for its parent company (Right to Care), spearheading disruptive innovation and enhancing differentiated models of pharmaceutical care in South Africa. We source, customise and implement the latest technology and systems to address key issues for better healthcare outcomes. The use of this pharmacy automation technology enhances delivery and access to medication services, eases overcrowding at facilities with high patient volumes, reduces patient waiting times and has the potential to improve medicine adherence and retention in care. Wider economic benefits are also achieved through minimising time off from work for employed PDU users.

The solution can also provide an economic alternative to scaling up medicine dispensing capacity in public services in a responsible and compliant manner. PDUs offer alternative collection options for the decentralising of patients from the main public health facilities and are excellent service points for both in-hospital pharmacy requirements, as well as out-of-hospital remote dispensing requirements. PDUs are primarily used to dispense chronic medication to patients, but they can be customised and utilized for specific programmes such as universal test and treat or malaria campaigns.

 Right ePharmacy is the ideal partner for any form of key health initiatives such as treatment access scale up. Activities are aligned with the National Department of Health’s (NDoH) national adherence strategy and aim to facilitate the acceleration of momentum towards attainment of UNAIDS 90 90 90 treatment targets. The solutions provided by Right ePharmacy also helps to further address some of the structural issues in the public health sector e.g. inadequate skills and human resources.

Our flagship product and 1st innovation is the PDU (Pharmacy Dispensing Unit) or ATM Pharmacy were patients can collection their medicine at an ATM. The PDU have an integrated printer and product labeler and is activated and monitored with a Cloud based patient file linked to a Tele-Pharmacy call centre. This enables remote dispensing and live patient counselling thru the audio-visual link.

We also pioneered the customisation and installation of the 1st Pharmacy Automation Robotics system in the Public Sector. Currently we have automated 3 hospital dispensaries with robotics in overburdened facilities.  

Right ePharmacy also customised “Collect & GO” electronic smart lockers that improves patient access and availability to pre-dispensed medication parcels. The lockers are temperature controlled and conveniently located for ease of access to patients. The technology is similar to e-commerce smart lockers but customised and focused on the improved collection of medicine in the public sector. 

  • What tech tools does Right ePharmacy leverage?

Right ePharmacy customises and utilises electronic locker systems to improve patient access to pre-dispensed medication parcels. The lockers are temperature controlled, secure and are also integrated with AWS cloud based technology which enables remote dispensing and live patient counselling. The cloud-based information (Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2) system hosts and manages patient data and links the patient to a remote pharmacist via an audio-video link. This virtual consultation between the patient and the pharmacist is called tele-pharmacy.  The Collect & Go smart locker system and Tele-Pharmacy solutions uses AWS Cloud based technology to enable remote management, monitoring and patient communications. Through this solution we also implemented an automated SMS system to keep patients informed about their parcel’s tracking, next collection dates and send of collection reminders.  

The cloud’s SMS system also keeps users informed about their next collection dates and sends out reminders. This has been made possible through Amazon CloudFront, a content delivery network.

 This promotes patient retention and assists the early identification and intervention for patients at risk of non-adherence. The system results in positive clinical outcomes and effective patient data management.
The customised project is directly aligned with South Africa’s National Department of Health priority need to decant stable patients out of facilities and enable more convenient chronic medication collection.