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How to Choose the Right Medication Dispensing Model

March 8th, 2023

There are many excellent automatic dispensing cabinets (ADCs) on the market today. All are meant to make handling medication in various healthcare settings easier, more efficient, and safer for both patients and their care teams. But not all are created equally. So, when making an investment in this type of equipment, it is important to consider your workflow and how your facility dispenses medication. The right technology choice should always work with a facility’s workflow, not against it. The healthcare environment, medications most distributed, and type of patient care must be considered when deciding which model fits best. Here are some guidelines for matching ADCs with their specific use cases to best benefit pharmacists, pharmacy techs, nurses, and the patients they serve.

Single Dose Dispensing

With single-dose drawer technology, medical staff members are only able to access specified compartments within the drawers to retrieve medication. This is especially helpful for ensuring maximum security with controlled drugs because accountability is built-in to the retrieval process. Advanced configuration capabilities allow facilities to designate exactly which authorized personnel have permission for specific medications. Along with tracking of every medication dose, this model type reduces time spent on pill counting, giving nurses back valuable minutes better spent with patients. Single-dose dispensing might be most useful in large acute care hospitals with 24-hour pharmacies where medication security, workflow efficiency, and improved patient care are front and center.  There are also parts of the world where this type of medication dispensing is required, leaving no option for alternatives.

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Linear/ Matrix Dispensing

Linear/Matrix dispensing cabinets offer the most flexibility in how a medication is stored and accessed.  Drawers can be modified at any time to hold various medication types and sizes, allowing staff to choose bulk supply storage, drawers, or a combination of both.  This is especially helpful for nurses and other professionals treating critical patients given that they’re often accessing multiple medications at once. Linear/Matrix cabinets offer a cost-effective way to store many different line items in a small space, making them an excellent equipment choice for proper medical dispensing in critical environments such as an emergency department or ambulatory surgery center.


Single Line-Item Dispensing

Single line-item dispensing cabinets combine some of the features of both single dose and linear matrix models, making them a desirable medication storage method available.  They are also uncomplicated to use as well as fast and easy for the pharmacy to restock. They can easily store appropriate quantities of medication and restrict access to single-line items. Single line-item compartment control accommodates a wide range of medication sizes that require higher security than matrix compartments. All of this makes it an ideal solution when controlled substance dispensing is part of regular treatment. Single-item dispensing ADCs can be used anywhere, but they are especially effective in behavioral health clinics and long-term acute care facilities like rehabilitation centers.  Overall, this dispensing model is a great solution for teams that are tasked with storing many medication types that require higher safety and security than open-compartment ADCs offer. 

Putting the wrong dispensing model into an environment can mean total disruption of workflow. The best way to ensure satisfaction with an ADC investment is to first spend time evaluating workflow, environment, and the facility’s unique requirements.  TouchPoint Medical is committed to ensuring products complement our customers’ workflows which in turn boosts staff acceptance and adherence to proper usage. Our knowledgeable team will gladly work with facility staff members to help select the right ADC from the start. In addition, we are happy to advise on mobile carts, procedure carts, and adjustable arms that will also enhance workflow and improve overall patient care.