RAHWAY, NJ — Having a much-needed prescription filled after an emergency room visit can be another headache for patients, but a local hospital is using technology to reduce that stress. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital installed an automated Walgreens pharmacy kiosk at its Rahway location and began offering services to patients in February.
“Patients love it because it’s a one-stop shop,” Ann Marie Shears, vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer at the hospital, said in a phone interview. “You get your care, and you can get in your car and go home.”
The kiosk has a Walgreens pharmacist who speaks Spanish and English available via video chat to advise patients about their medications. The kiosk dispenses and refills 150 of the hospital’s most commonly prescribed medications.
Narcotics are not dispensed at the kiosk, Shears said, as emergency room doctors have begun to prescribe them less frequently. While drugs such as antibiotics will be dispensed, “maintenance” prescriptions like blood pressure medication will not be available, Shears said.
A 24-hour Walgreens is located less than a mile from the hospital, so any medication that can’t be obtained at the kiosk is offered at the brick-and-mortar location, Shears said. The prescriptions can also be filled at any other non-Walgreens pharmacy, too.
Any one is able to access the kiosk, not just emergency room patients, Shears said.
As a precaution, cash is not accepted at the kiosk since it’s located in a remote area of the emergency room waiting area, Shears said.
The services at the kiosk also analyze health insurance, and the pharmacist will be able to instruct patients about how to take their medication properly.
“Because it’s interactive, they can give patients the education for drug interactions or how they should take the medication,” Shears said.
The kiosk is only one of two known to be available along the East Coast, Shears said.
The other is located in Florida, she said.
The bigger trend, Shears added, is to have a retail pharmacy on site at a hospital; this is more profitable for the hospital, if it has the space.
“I just really think it’s great for patients because it’s an efficiency-of-care issue and it really does meet the needs of our patients,” she said. “It sends a message that we care about our patients.”
To learn which prescriptions are available at the Rahway kiosk, visit Walgreens.com/kioskcheck.