Nurse Kelly Leroy sweeps a scanner over Richard Handman's bar-coded bracelet like a grocery clerk ringing up a loaf of bread. She's making sure the tiny black lines on his wristband match those on the packet of pills dispensed by Fillmore the cyber-robot downstairs in the Northside Hospital pharmacy. They do because computers, unlike people, seldom make mistakes.
The nation's $2 trillion health care industry hasn't been keeping up with the times, but a number of companies are going all out to create a safer universal electronic medical system that President Bush says should be in place by 2014.
McKesson, which has 2,500 employees here, has robots in more than 325 hospitals, including 12 in Georgia and seven in the Atlanta area. More hospitals, Pure says, could benefit by buying robots such as Fillmore.
Fillmore lives in a room full of hooks laden with thousands of tiny bar-coded medication bags. On command, it zips down a rail and pulls medicines off, dropping them into an envelope and sending them by computerized pushcart to a nurse's station.