High-tech innovation in chronic medicine dispensing enhances patient experience

Medipost Holdings


Media release


 High-tech innovation in chronic medicine dispensing enhances patient experience


Large-scale Western Cape Health Chronic Dispensary Unit takes efficiency to new heights


 Monday, 1 July 2019 Innovative cutting-edge technology, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, is being utilised at the Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) Chronic Dispensary Unit (CDU) in Parow, Cape Town, to further enhance efficiency in chronic medicine supply, resulting in better patient experience and outcomes.

The CDU, a contract between Western Cape Government Health and Medipost Pharmacy, is equipped with a bespoke automated chronic medicine dispensing, sorting and parcel assembly line.

“Since December 2005, the Department has delivered chronic patient medicine parcels to stable chronic patients at either Department facilities and clinics, or alternate collection sites. Instead of queuing for their medicines at pharmacies, such patients are able to conveniently collect their medicine parcels, which are specially pre-packaged and dispensed at the CDU for each individual making use of this service,” says Western Cape Minister of Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.

On Monday, 1 July 2019, WCGH Head of Department Dr Beth Engelbrecht conducted an oversight visit to the technologically-advanced WCGH CDU facility, which dispenses almost 400 000 patient-ready medicine parcels for individuals across the province each month and has additional capacity to service more patients as required.

The world-class medicine dispensary system was specially designed to fulfil the specific and stringent requirements of the Western Cape Government Health for preparing and despatching hundreds of thousands of medicine parcels each month.

Dr Laurel Giddy, family healthcare physician at Knysna Provincial Hospital. Hornlee Clinic, which is just outside Knysna serves a community of approximately 19 000. 

“The effectiveness of the CDU underpins the service we are able to provide, not only for those patients receiving their chronic medication parcels from medicine collection points but also through assisting to free up capacity in our walk-in pharmacies at hospitals and clinics for individuals who require acute medicines or who may need face-to-face consultations with pharmacists,” Dr Engelbrecht notes.

Innovations inherent in the automated system include optimal accuracy, enhanced process efficiency with faster turnaround times, and minimisation of waste. Additional safety measures include pharmacists conducting a “blind checking” process, aided by the software program whereby the original prescription is compared to the one captured on the system. Strict patient confidentiality is maintained to protect the privacy of individuals making use of the service.

“The reduced waiting times and enhanced operational efficiencies that highly innovative systems such as this are able to achieve meaningfully contribute to the quality of care individual patients are receiving, as well as extending access to more people.”

Dr Engelbrecht adds that to be effective and a positive impact, any innovation needs to be sustainable. The CDU directly employs 100 people, the majority having been recruited from the Parow Industria and surrounding areas. Of these staff members, a number have been enrolled with the Medi Training Academy where they are studying to become Basic and Post-Basic Pharmacist’s Assistants. This training initiative aims to address a shortage of scarce skill sets in healthcare, both nationally and within the province. Outsourced services, including cleaning, canteen facilities and waste management, have also contributed to job creation in the area.

Commenting on the project Noel Guliwe, chief executive officer of Medipost Holdings, says: “It is a privilege to be partnering with Western Cape Government Health to the benefit the health of South Africans living with chronic conditions.

“This aspect of health service delivery promotes convenient access to life-saving chronic medication, which in turn assists individuals to comply with their prescribed chronic treatment. The CDU is therefore helping to improve the health of the people of the Western Cape through contributing to better health outcomes for patients in the province.”

Bernhard Githundi, chronic mediation patient at Hornlee Clinic. 

The CDU has been designed with environmental sustainability in mind. The site runs exclusively on borehole water, which is filtered and treated to well within the standards for potable water, thereby reducing demand on municipal water supplies.

A number of power-efficient features are included in the design of the plant, including a highly efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, a fully insulated building for temperature regulation, as well as LED internal and external lighting fixtures, many of which are motion-sensor controlled.

Dr Mbombo says that the CDU is just one of the creative partnerships that are driving innovation in the service of person-centred healthcare within the province.

“It is most encouraging to see the private and public sectors working together effectively and harnessing technology to make healthcare more accessible and effective for the people we serve,” she concluded.


Please visit https://youtu.be/DKvLqnR-NbE to access the video to accompany this media release.


Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Medipost Holdings

Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster

Telephone:        (011) 469 3016

Email:                   martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or estene@mnapr.co.za