Walgreens Turns to Prescription-Filling Robots to Free Up Pharmacists
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is turning to robots to ease workloads at drugstores as it grapples with a nationwide shortage of pharmacists and pharmacist technicians.
The nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain is setting up a network of automated, centralized drug-filling centers that could fill a city block. Rows of yellow robotic arms bend and rotate as they sort and bottle multicolored pills, sending them down conveyor belts. The company says the setup cuts pharmacist workloads by at least 25% and will save Walgreens more than $1 billion a year.
The ultimate goal: give pharmacists more time to provide medical services such as vaccinations, patient outreach and prescribing of some medications. Those services are a relatively new and growing revenue stream for drugstores, which are increasingly able to bill insurers for some clinical services.