News 20/06/2022

At the Nîmes University Hospital, pill dispensers are in the hands of Deenova, a robot

Reducing errors, limiting waste and optimising the working time of health care staff. Le Réveil du Midi (a French regional newspaper) reports on the benefits coming from the arrival of Deenova robots at the Nîmes University Hospital: they prepare pillboxes automatically.

Read the original article in French.

Last Friday, the director of the Nîmes University Hospital, Nicolas Best, presented a small innovation that was installed a fortnight ago in the hospital’s internal pharmacy… From now on, a 100% automated process handles the pillboxes used to administer treatment to patients.

It is no longer the small hands of the pharmacist but those of the robot, which will henceforth fill the pillboxes of the Nîmes University Hospital. The principle is simple: using its arm, Deenova (the robot) prepares the boxes, extracts the tablet from its packaging and places it in the pillbox. Once completed, all that remains for the nurse or pharmacist to do is to retrieve the ready-to-use pillbox.


A pharmacist collects the ready-to-use pill boxes. © G. Ohan-Tchelebian

The entire chain is robotized and no longer requires human intervention, except in the event of a control. Still at the start-up stage, checks are carried out regularly.

5 robots for a total of 1.3 million euros

60m2 will have been enough to install these 5 robots. For the moment, the capacity achieved by the robots ensures the filling of pillboxes for 400 beds. It is planned to achieve 1600 beds by September 2022.

When asked what will happen to the healthcare staff initially responsible for these repetitive tasks, the pharmacist explains that their replacement by the robot is beneficial: “It is not possible to hire untrained staff even to fill pillboxes, the robots will free about twenty pharmacists from a not entirely exciting and high-risk job that can be redeployed on care services” explains Jean-Marie Kinowski, pharmacist at the Nîmes University Hospital.


Jean-Marie Kinowski, pharmacist at the Nîmes University Hospital, presents Deenova, a 100% robotic line for preparing pillboxes © G. Ohan-Tchelebian

Another advantage is the time saved. With Deenova, 50 pillboxes are prepared per hour, per robot. In total, 250 pillboxes are prepared in one hour by the 5 robots. Needless to say, in terms of efficiency, this is far from being possible on human scale and the increase in production volume in a reduced time is considerable.

A secure medication circuit

Preparation is done on a day-to-day basis, which avoids an administration error if a patient changes department. For example, if a patient is transferred during the day, the next day’s pillbox is prepared after the patient’s visit or after the evening’s counter-visit once he or she is settled in the new room. So, no weekly pillboxes.

The big advance that everyone agrees on concerns the unit doses. Sometimes the doses are not written on the tablet but on the packaging, so once out, it is difficult to remember which tablet it is if you forget “the white capsules all look the same”. The robot does not forget. The risk of error is eliminated, and no more wastage. The right medicine, to the right patient, at the right time.