Fruth Pharmacy has taken a novel approach to pharmacy automation in a long-term agreement with technology provider Kirby Lester.

Fruth Pharmacy, Kirby Lester, pharmacy automation, dispensing technology, drug chain, dispensing systems, pharmacies, Lynne Fruth, KL60 compact robotic dispenser, KL20 counting and verification system, KL30, KL15e compact tablet counter, Craig Kimble, Tim Weber, pharmacy operations, Garry Zage

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Fruth Pharmacy sharpens technology focus

April 18th, 2012

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Fruth Pharmacy has taken a novel approach to pharmacy automation in a long-term agreement with technology provider Kirby Lester.

Under the pact, announced Tuesday, Fruth selected Kirby Lester to serve as its primary dispensing technology supplier. The regional drug chain installed a custom mix of Kirby Lester dispensing systems in its 25 pharmacies, located in West Virginia and Ohio.

Kirby Lester noted that instead of deploying cookie-cutter machines in all of Fruth's drug stores, the drug chain's and technology company's management took a more analytical approach. Each location is now using one or two different Kirby Lester dispensing systems, ranging from robotics to simple tablet counters.

The result: Each Fruth store has the optimum level of technology to best fit its pharmacy's needs, according to Kirby Lester.

Fruth removed older robots at several stores and installed a combination of four Kirby Lester systems: the KL60 compact robotic dispenser; the KL20 counting and verification system, for accurate dispensing and error prevention; the KL30, based on the KL20 with an automated dispensing and double-count feature; and the KL15e compact tablet counter.

"Not all people are the same. And not all pharmacies are the same, even in a chain environment. So why would we want the same robot or the same dispensing device at every store, just for the sake of convenience?" Lynne Fruth, president and chairwoman of Point Pleasant, W.Va.-based Fruth Pharmacy, said in a statement. "We have a wide spectrum of daily prescription volumes, available floor space and configurations, staffing levels and customer demographics among our 25 locations. We wanted to partner with a technology company that offered a full suite so we could pick and choose."

Kirby Lester noted that last year Fruth and her team of Craig Kimble, director of pharmacy, and Tim Weber, director of pharmacy operations, began an analysis of how technology could help the drug chain improve inventory control, turnaround time and customer care. By installing a custom combination of Kirby Lester devices at each store, the chain drug retailer was able to solve many of the needs of each pharmacy location, freeing up pharmacy staff to focus more on serving patients.

"This is a great partnership between two companies that have been involved in retail pharmacy for decades," stated Garry Zage, president and chief executive officer of Kirby Lester.

In a recent interview with Chain Drug Review, Fruth said a priority on the drug chain's agenda for this year is to evaluate current technology systems to determine areas of opportunity.

"Our point-of-sale system has restraints on creating the type of promotions, advertising and marketing tools that we feel are needed to help promote and drive front-end sales," she explained. "We will examine technology offerings and explore new vendors that offer a more robust system required to provide the dynamic promotions and marketing that Fruth is seeking.

"Fruth looks to 2012 as a year to make significant investments in technology with automation, filling systems, and store- and mobile-based applications," she added.