Walgreens Boots Alliance has announced it plans to open 22 robot powered micro-fulfilment centres across the US to fill customers’ prescriptions.
As much as half of the retailer’s total prescription volume could be filled at the automated hubs by 2025, the company’s group president Rex Swords said.
Each robot can fill 30 prescriptions in an hour, the company said. This works out to roughly the same number that a typical Walgreens pharmacy with a handful of staff may do in a day.
The Alliance hopes that the move will free up more of the pharmacists’ time to prove healthcare, Walgreens’ new CEO Roz Brewer said in an interview with CNBC.
“We’re doing all of this work, so that the pharmacist has an easier job, so that they can get back to being front and centre, building a relationship with that patient and interacting the way they were trained — the work that they love to do,” she said.
In the meantime, pharmacists will continue to fill out time-sensitive medications and controlled substances at their local stores until the micro-fulfilment centres have been rolled out.
The influx of rapid grocery delivery companies has meant that pharmacies have had to work harder to stay relevant, as companies such as Getir are delivering traditional pharmacy products to customer’s doorsteps within minutes.