Technology, in the form of an automated tablet-counting machine, is helping speed up a traditional task and free up more time for patients, say healthcare professionals.

Manually counting tablets has historically been a big time consumer for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and nurses. No longer, as the Bay of Plenty District Health Board becomes one of New Zealand's first DHBs to install a repackaging machine in its Tauranga Hospital Pharmacy.

The EV-54 NANO vial filling machine ("Evie" for short) went fully operational today and the benefits it represented have been eagerly anticipated, said pharmacy manager Cindy Mortimer in a statement.

"It's all about the patients at the end of the day," Mortimer said.


"It frees staff up from manual, non-value-add tasks and allows the pharmacists and technicians to spend more time with them. It's about adding value out on the wards with the people we're caring for.

"This is one of the first repackaging machines in a DHB in the country. Installing it has been about listening to staff and giving them the tools to do their job more efficiently."

It was not just in the pharmacy where the benefits would be felt, director of nursing Julie Robinson said.

Nurses administering tablets onwards would also now have more time freed up for patients.

Pharmacy technician Tayla Lum and her colleagues undertook timed tests manually counting tablets and then replicating those with Evie.

Early results showed the machine was about 4.5 times faster.

"Not only does it take less time to do the job than it would manually, but you can be doing other things whilst it's working, such as labelling," Lum said.

"It also means we can spend more time with patients discussing how to optimise their medication management.


"It will make a big difference to the way we work and the pharmacists and technicians will work together to make the most of any efficiencies it offers."

Prior to going live, testing and training phases were undertaken and standard operating procedures developed to ensure all relevant standards were met.