ATM pharmacies dispense chronic meds in JHB and Bloem

There’s great news for patients on chronic medication living in and around Joburg and Bloemfontein. You can now collect your monthly medicines in about three minutes from extremely advanced ‘ATM pharmacies’ set up by Right ePharmacy at busy locations close to where you live and work.

 Pharmacy dispensing units

The pharmacy dispending units (PDUs) are chronic medicine collection points which dispense medication quickly and accurately so patients who are part of the public service don’t have to wait in long queues at their local clinic every month when collecting repeat medication.

 The PDUs are located in:

  • Soweto: Baragwanath Mall in Diepkloof and Ndofaya Mall in Meadowlands;
  • Diepsloot: Bambanani Mall;
  • Alexandra: Alex Plaza and
  • Bloemfontein: Twin City Mall.

Fanie Hendriksz, managing director of Right ePharmacy, says, ‘If you have a chronic condition and you are clinically stable, you can use the PDUs. Simply go to your usual clinic where a nurse will confirm whether you are eligible. You then complete a consent form and become registered. You will be given a two months’ supply of medication and you will be given a date for your next collection at a PDU site. On that day, go to the helpdesk at the PDU with your ID or passport and clinic appointment card where you will be helped.’

The PDUs are part of Right ePharmacy’s automated dispensing programme, providing much-needed relief to under-resourced public healthcare facilities. Says Hendriksz, ‘Many public healthcare facilities are and overstretched particularly when it comes to dispensing medication as there is a shortage of pharmacists. Right to Care set up Right ePharmacy to offer innovation through technology for the dispensing of chronic medication.’


Medicine is dispensed in a simple five-step process:

  • Patient scans barcode ID book, ID card or pharmacy card and enters PIN
  • Patient talks to a remote pharmacist (like a Skype call)
  • The prescription and items are selected
  • The medicine is robotically dispensed and labelled and drops in the collection slot
  • Patient takes the receipt which indicates next collection date.

 Reminder SMSs are sent to patients who don’t collect their medicine to ensure adherence.

‘The treatment of patients with chronic diseases contributes substantially to primary healthcare facilities’ becoming overloaded as there are hundreds of thousands of chronic patients in the system. These patients need to consult with a clinician twice a year and collect their medication a further four times a year,’ says Hendriksz.


 For those that use the PDUs, there is a 30 percent increase in patient satisfaction over going to clinics, a 50 percent reduction in waiting times, an 80 percent reduction in dispensing errors with patient adherence at just over 93 percent. The PDUs also still allow patients to talk one-on-one to tele-pharmacists. The PDU system improves stock management through a computerised system so that stock outs are avoided.

The PDUs are open from 7am to 6pm from Monday to Friday and from 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The contact centre number is 0801 112 228.

Hendriksz concludes, ‘Our partnerships made this innovation possible and we are grateful to the Gauteng and Free State health departments which have worked with us to decongest public facilities and help ensure patients receive their monthly medication and stay on treatment.’