Dispensing: a comparison of different models in community pharmacy

Although most medicines are still dispensed by hand, new technology allows parts of the process to be automated. This infographic compares examples of the newer models, such as hub and spoke and centralised dispensing, with the traditional model.

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Figure 1: Traditional pharmacy distribution model

Prescriptions are dispensed by hand in the pharmacy


Figure 2: Automated pharmacy — Rowa Technologies

Source: Rowa Technologies

A single pharmacy with a dispensing robot


Figure 3: Centralised dispensing — Pharmacy2U

Source: Pharmacy2U

Patient obtains a prescription from their GP or online. Patient interaction happens online or via a call centre. Dispensed medicines are posted to the patient. Automated picking system used at central dispensary; bulky items picked manually


Figure 4: Hub and spoke (same legal entity) – Celesio

Source: Celesio

Patient interaction happens at the spoke pharmacy. Repeat prescriptions and community dosage system trays are automatically assembled at the hub and then sent to the spoke pharmacy


Figure 5: Hub and spoke (different legal entities) – proposed model

Patient interaction happens at the spoke pharmacy. Registered spoke pharmacies use a hub in a different legal entity to assemble prescriptions, or registered spoke pharmacies from different legal entities form a co-operative and set up a hub dispensary. The spokes have an NHS contract but the hub does not


Infographic: MAG and Alisdair MacDonald

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2016, Vol 297, No 7891;297(7891):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201505

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