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Senior pharmaceutical technician Michelle Stevenson
October 19 is Pharmacy Technician Day, an annual recognition day to thank all pharmacy technicians for their dedication and hard work. Hamilton Health Sciences’ senior pharmaceutical technician Michelle Stevenson takes us into her world, with a look at how advancements in pharmacy technology are improving patient safety and work flows.
October 19, 2021

Introducing a senior pharmaceutical technician specializing in automation

Michelle Stevenson is a seasoned veteran when it comes to advancing pharmacy technology at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).

“I’ve been here since pharmacy automation was first introduced at HHS and now I’m helping launch another round of technology advancements,” says the senior pharmaceutical technician and 17-year staff member.

Stevenson is helping to introduce new automated medication-dispensing cabinets and anesthesia workstation carts at HHS hospital sites. The new Omnicell cabinets are used by nurses, respiratory therapists and some physicians, while carts will be used in procedural areas by anesthesiologists.

“I’ve been able to do so much here over my career.”


Pharmacy technician Michelle Stevenson

Omnicell technology helps pharmacy technicians ensure that medication-dispensing cabinets are consistently and properly stocked.

Cabinets and carts will be integrated with HHS’ new hospital information system (HIS) being launched in June 2022. This new HIS, called Epic, will allow cabinets and carts to be used to their full potential. Stevenson is a principal trainer for the Epic rollout, which includes developing a curriculum and assessments for over 400 pharmacy staff members, as well as helping to integrate the new pharmacy and Epic technology, creating improved work flows and patient safety.

Inspired by technology

The new Omnicell medication-dispensing cabinets are used by nurses, respiratory therapists and some physicians, while carts will be used in procedural areas by anesthesiologists.

This technology makes dispensing medications safer and more efficient, with features that include real-time electronic tracking of medications. The technology does everything from flagging expiry dates and low stock, to ensuring medications being used match the patient’s orders. For added security, nurses and providers will access medications using fingerprint scanning technology.

The cabinets are being installed across all inpatient areas and some procedure areas to replace aging units. Over the summer, they were installed at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC), Hamilton General Hospital (HGH), McMaster University Medical Centre (MUMC) and McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH).

St. Peter’s Hospital (SPH) goes live with the cabinets this month and West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) follows in December.

New pharmacy technology, such as the Omnicell medication-dispensing cabinets, will integrate with HHS’ new hospital information system to create improved work flows and patient safety.

The anesthesia carts will be introduced at WLMH later this year, and will then be rolled out at JHCC, HGH,  MUMC and MCH from January to March 2022. They’ll be located in areas where patients receive sedation, including operating rooms, the heart investigation unit, labour and delivery and interventional radiology.

These carts are new technology to HHS, which allow the dispensing, administration and documentation of medications in one single step. Labels and barcodes are automatically generated as medication is removed, eliminating the need for double documentation on paper. Medication is tracked electronically to the patient.

A satisfying career

Stevenson joined HHS 17 years ago as a registered pharmacy technician, and most recently has worked as the senior pharmacy technician at MUMC, and a pharmacy system administrator with the pharmacy automation team.

These days, she especially enjoys working on bringing technology even closer to healthcare and improving patient safety.

“I’ve been able to do so much here over my career,” says Stevenson. “Instead of being limited to one job, HHS has given me the opportunity to work in a variety of challenging roles that span the entire organization.”