Patients can get common medications from automated pharmacy kiosks at three UF Health ERs

The new pharmacy kiosks at UF Health adult ERs allow a patient to speak directly to a licensed pharmacist by video link before their prescription is dispensed. (Photo by Bill Levesque)

Press release from UF Health


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Health emergency patients now can get more than 120 of the most common medications prescribed in the ER from automated pharmacy kiosks that offer the latest technology while retaining the human touch.

Customers still interact with a UF Health licensed pharmacist, who appears on a screen to answer questions, provide guidance, and shepherd the patient through the process.

The kiosks, which do not dispense controlled substances, are located at the UF Health Shands Emergency Room, the UF Health Shands Emergency Center ¬– Springhill, and the UF Health Emergency Center – Kanapaha.

With the closest 24-hour pharmacy located in Jacksonville, an hour’s drive away, the kiosks, manufactured by MedAvail Technologies, fill a critical need for UF Health emergency patients in Gainesville.

UF Health pharmacy officials said the kiosks are available every day of the week, 24 hours a day. Aside from dispensing prescriptions in the middle of the night, they also save patients the time and trouble of going to a brick-and-mortar pharmacy at other times. This can be especially helpful to someone who is sick or has limited mobility, officials said.

“It’s just as if you walk into a pharmacy, walk to the window, and say, ‘Hi, I’m here to pick up my prescription,’” said Suzy Wise, Pharm.D, M.B.A., director of pharmacy, ambulatory services – UF Health Shands. “Our patients are getting a prescription right away without having to drive to the pharmacy on the way home and maybe wait hours for it to be filled.”

The machines accept all insurance types, including commercial insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid, and can take payment with mobile pay, credit, or debit card. They do not hold or accept cash.

Wise said the kiosks are popular with patients who can get a medication in about five minutes right at the emergency center.

No patient information is stored in the machines.

“I admit I was a little unsure of the technology until I saw it demonstrated,” said Matthew B. Shannon, M.D., an assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Medical Director of the UF Health emergency centers at Springhill and Kanapaha. “Then, whatever fears I had completely went away. These kiosks have distinct advantages. And the magic sauce is that patients still talk to a pharmacist. We don’t take that away.”

Using a kiosk is more involved than buying a snack from a vending machine — but not that much more.

The process starts with a doctor prescribing a medication for a patient about to be discharged. It might be an antibiotic for an infection, a high blood pressure medication, an inhaler for someone with asthma, or a drug for any of the torrent of ailments emergency physicians tend to daily.

A patient is given the option of picking up the medication at the kiosk and is guided to the machine by a UF Health staff member. The patient presses a button on a touch screen, and a pharmacist appears on the screen via video link to offer counseling or answer questions.

The patient makes a payment, if one is necessary. At the end of the encounter, the drug drops into a secure bin, a door rises, and the patient can take the medication and patient education leaflets.

Using the kiosks is intuitive and easy, even for those who do not feel confident on a computer, officials said.

”It’s really been a driver for a better patient experience,” said Brandon R. Allen, M.D., medical director of the UF Health Shands Emergency Room and an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “We’re having a bedside conversation with the patient about the value of the pharmacy kiosks. Many of them are excited to get their prescriptions before they even walk to the parking lot.”

  • It will only be a matter of time before some dingus will smash one open looking for money and narcotics….

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