Pharmacy Design Trends, © Ian Janer and William N.
Bernstein, LEED®AP, AIA
design has been undergoing dramatic changes in recent
years, in a number of areas. A main trend has been the
need to modernize and automate the production, packaging,
distribution, and provision of drugs, particularly of
prescription drugs, which have to be monitored and secured
at all times. Modern pharmacies --- particularly hospital
pharmacies --- are looking to establish an automated
system that performs all the jobs from the clean room to
the patient’s bedside. Great progress has been made in
moving towards a coordinated, automated pharmacy system.
Clients looking to design a pharmacy will want to be
cognizant of these trends.
movement towards automation has been spurred by a number
of factors, including: lower overall cost of operation,
higher safety standards, and increased ability of the
pharmacy to respond quickly and accurately to hospital
needs. A big factor in the decrease in costs, is the
ability of hospitals to reduce staff, based on the
implementation of automated systems. Additionally, the new
electronic systems mean fewer medication errors and
tighter security, not to mention more reliably safe drugs.
Successful pharmacy plans from now on will be impacted by
the need for affordable, modular design and the
requirements of the increasingly complex web of
computer-run production and distribution systems.
rooms --- rooms designed to control and limit temperature,
humidity, air pressure, and particles --- have been used
for years in both pharmacy and laboratory settings. As of
late, clean rooms have become much more significant for
compounding and preparing drugs due to a set of guidelines
established by the United States Pharmacopoeia in 2004 ---
and then revised and re-issued in 2008 --- entitled “USP
797”. This guideline specifies that pharmacies that
prepare CSPs (compounded sterile preparations) must have
clean operating spaces, that meet ISO 7 and ISO 8
hospitals have central pharmacies with multiple pharmacy
stations throughout the hospital for immediate supplies.
Most of the current advances in pharmacy layout design
have been to automate the procedures within and in between
these central and satellite units, which is possible
through using automated pharmacy equipment and electronic
records for each prescription.
latest trends in pharmacy designs have been to use
technology to make the various jobs of the pharmacist
easier, if not perform the jobs entirely. Machines have
been developed to aid in drug preparation, packaging, and
Automation Equipment with the Pharmacy
pharmacy automation equipment has taken over all of the
tasks from packaging to dispensing. An example of such
equipment is the Swisslog PillPick, which even restocks
itself. In keeping with the theme of modularity, this
device, like many others, is scalable based on the
client’s needs. Other pharmacy automation systems include
the McKesson ROBOT-Rx. Machines like the PillPick and
ROBOT-Rx and its competitors are built to be integrated
into the larger pharmacy system.
Automation Equipment Connecting the Pharmacy to Other
hospitals, the nurse’s stations are just as important
distributors of prescription drugs as the central
pharmacies, so a number of hospitals have adopted new
technologies in these locations as well. A design for
pharmacy should incorporate improvements aimed at
providing faster, more accurate service to improve the
safety and comfort of patients.
such as the Pyxis Medstation --- known to anyone who is a
pharmacy planner or pharmacy operator --- are used now in
inpatient care units to monitor, regulate, and dispense
drugs to nurses, eliminating mislabeling and theft and
allowing for quicker access to drugs. Basically they’re
pharmaceutical ATMs operated by medical staff. Other
similar robots have been developed to distribute
individual doses of medication, and some machines come in
the form of portable carts.
the most direct methods of distributing medication is
through bedside dispensers that are timed to unlock each
time the patient needs a dose of his or her medication.
the most useful of all of these devices is pneumatic
tubing, which promotes intra-hospital transportation of
drugs. Pneumatic tubing uses pressure to propel parcels
and is now being used in some hospitals to connect the
various pharmacy stations throughout. The tubes can be
used for spreading documents, small instruments and drugs
from the central pharmacy to the nursing stations.
Companies such as PEVCO and Swisslog have successfully
installed networks of pneumatic tubing in hospitals, and
this promising development might one day lead to a future
where drugs can be transported directly from preparation
to the bedside.
Combination Pharmacy Automation Systems
development in hospital pharmacy operations is related to
the combination of all of these different aspects to
increase hospital automation, which can be seen at the
Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand.
The hospital has decreased its human staffing needs and
increased its efficiency through the use of many Swisslog
devices, including conveyer belts, pill sorters, and
pneumatic tubes. This all-inclusive approach to
incorporating automation into the pharmacy and
incorporating the pharmacy into the hospital is a step
towards the future of in-hospital pharmacy design.
the Retail Pharmacy
pharmacies have taken a different approach to that of
hospital pharmacies. The biggest innovation in the last
few years in retail pharmacy design is not investing in
expensive automated machinery, but rather in creating a
more welcoming, health-based, pharmacy-centered space.
trends in retail pharmacy interior design focus on
aesthetics and clarity of the pharmacy’s healthy message.
Such a model may have a central pharmacy kiosk and be more
open and friendly than previous models. The sections
within the store are to be health-themed and decorated in
an open friendly manner with appropriate light quality.
Instead of raising efficiency of speed and safety, these
retail pharmacies focus on raising the efficiency of their
Hospital and Retail Pharmacies Can Learn from Each Other
seemingly unrelated, the two types of pharmacy can
potentially learn from each other to improve even further.
A commercial pharmacy can gain a lot from increased speed
and accountability, while a hospital pharmacy can gain at
least a little from improving the experience through
Bernstein & Associates, Architects:
Bernstein & Associates, Architects has specialized in
healthcare and lab design and construction since the
firm's founding in 1990. This architecture firm is
well-known for pharmacy planning, pharmacy design and
pharmacy architecture, including a sub-specialty in usp
797 compliant pharmacy design and construction. The firm
has designed over twenty new pharmacies, pharmacy
renovations, and pharmacy relocations in the past five
years. The firm is featured on the pharmacy design
www.pharmacydesign.org, and the usp 797 website,
www.usp797.org. The firm's principal --- William N.
AIA --- is a well known pharmacy architect. He has written
extensively on pharmacy design and pharmacy construction
including usp 797 compliant pharmacies. Mr. Bernstein's
pharmacy design articles can be found on
www.pharmacydesign.org, and his usp 797 articles can
be found on the usp 797 website
information about healthcare and hospital design and
construction, including pharmacy design and construction,
contact Bernstein & Associates, Architects at:
& Associates, Architects - PLLC
59 West 19th Street - 6A, NY, NY 10011
NEW YORK - HARFTFORD - PRINCETON