South Africa’s Free State Department of Health Deploys First ATM Pharmacy in Bloemfontein, South Africa.


South Africa’s Free State Department of Health has deployed its first pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU), also known as ATM Pharmacy in the Bloemfontein, South Africa.

According to Montseng Tsiu, MEC for health in the free state province; This technologically advanced Pharmacy will dramatically reduce waiting times and congestion in public health care facilities in Mangaung.

The system integrates with the clinical management processes of patients with chronic conditions at public facilities to dispense and label medication at the point of patient collection and interaction.

The date for the next prescription collection is shown on the patients receipt, and a follow up reminders are sent by SMS to the patient. However, late collections are immediately identified and flagged for follow up.

The system is run by qualified pharmacists and pharmacy assistants. He added that “patients are serviced in all eleven languages and there is on site support to help patients interact with technology.”

How it works

Patients are able to talk to pharmacist in an Audio-Visual interaction between the patient and a remotely located tele-pharmacy contact center, 400km away in Centurion Gauteng.

The dispensing data is hosted in a cloud- based technology that interfaces with the ATM to dispense and label medication at the point of patient collection and interaction.

However, the deploying Department didn’t say if there’ll be some sort of pin code or pharmacy ATM card that will be issued to patients to enable them access the ATM pharmacy.

But it agrees that it’s a great idea as “This pharmacy enhances access to quality pharmaceutical services and improves patient convenience. The tele-pharmacy further enhances the quality of care that we are providing through the dispensing units. The early benefits have shown valuable patient and community data trends that are useful for meeting population needs and health services planning. The technology is making it easier for people with various illnesses to access medication, ultimately improving adherence and health outcomes,” concluded Fanie Hendriksz, Managing Director of Right ePharmacy.

Free State health departments ATM pharmacy and Gauteng Department of Health were developed by a team from Right to Care and Right e-pharmacy. The robotic technology used to dispense medication by the PDU was developed by a German company, MACH4.

Free State Department of Health is the second ATM pharmacy in South Africa. The first was deployed by Gauteng Department of Health in March, 2018.