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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2009 Oct 1;66(19):1754-62. doi: 10.2146/ajhp080184.

Determining the feasibility of robotic courier medication delivery in a hospital setting.

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Pharmacy Operations, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2582, USA.



The feasibility of a robotic courier medication delivery system in a hospital setting was evaluated.


Robotic couriers are self-guiding, self-propelling robots that navigate hallways and elevators to pull an attached or integrated cart to a desired destination. A robotic courier medication delivery system was pilot tested in two patient care units at a 471-bed tertiary care academic medical center. Average transit for the existing manual medication delivery system hourly hospitalwide deliveries was 32.6 minutes. Of this, 32.3% was spent at the patient care unit and 67.7% was spent pushing the cart or waiting at an elevator. The robotic courier medication delivery system traveled as fast as 1.65 ft/sec (52% speed of the manual system) in the absence of barriers but moved at an average rate of 0.84 ft/sec (26% speed of the manual system) during the study, primarily due to hallway obstacles. The robotic courier was utilized for 50% of the possible 1750 runs during the 125-day pilot due to technical or situational difficulties. Of the runs that were sent, a total of 79 runs failed, yielding an overall 91% success rate. During the final month of the pilot, the success rate reached 95.6%. Customer satisfaction with the traditional manual delivery system was high. Customer satisfaction with deliveries declined after implementation of the robotic courier medication distribution system.


A robotic courier medication delivery system was implemented but was not expanded beyond the two pilot units. Challenges of implementation included ongoing education on how to properly move the robotic courier and keeping the hallway clear of obstacles.

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