Denmark’s vision: A future-proof health care system with a focus on safety and efficiency

Denmark’s hospitals are undergoing a massive change. With a budget of EUR 6.4 billion, Denmark aims at better and more cohesive patient treatment, improved patient safety, greater efficiency and a higher quality of care in its hospitals throughout the country. Procurement of advanced technology is an integral part of the project.

During the past decade, the Danish health care system has been going through significant expansion and restructuring. Following an administrative reform and the formation of five regions with the healthcare sector as their main task, the systematic planning and reconstruction of hospitals, based on nationally-determined criteria, began in 2007.

A perfect opportunity for greater automation of work processes

The overall goal of Denmark’s hospital modernisation project has been to ensure nationwide access to modern health services. This goal will be reached through continued specialisation and by making sure that hospitals’ services and infrastructure can be flexibly modified, expanded, or reduced depending on
changing demands for treatment and care.

The reform also calls for the use of advanced work methods and new technologies.

This gives the hospitals a perfect opportunity to investigate options for greater automation of work processes.

“I may be stating the obvious, but modern health care of patients requires the use of modern technology. In this respect, our hospitals were out-dated, and the renewal was necessary,” says Kjeld Møller Pedersen, professor of health economics and health policy at the University of Southern Denmark and a member of an expert panel of the construction project.

According to a report from 2017 by the Danish Ministry of Health, EUR 0.9 billion of the total budget of EUR 6.4 billion has been earmarked for the procurement of medical equipment and new advanced technology.

All hospitals have their individual needs

The construction of hospitals cannot be based on a single, national model for renewal since there is great variation in the starting point for construction among the regions, ranging from renovations and extensions, to building entirely new hospitals.

“These super hospitals are a big challenge,” says Hanne Hansen-Nord, NewIcon’s Sales Manager in Denmark.

“They are being built at the same time but they are not heading in exactly the same direction. That is why, also when it comes to pharmacy automation, all hospitals will have their individual needs.”

The super hospitals refer to 16 hospital construction projects. They consist of seven new national hospitals and nine existing hospitals that are being renovated. If everything goes to plan, all hospitals will be in use by 2025. Besides these 16 projects, 27 other hospital construction projects are being carried out during the same period of time.

Improvements for patients and employees

New technological solutions, pharmacy automation among them, will not only result in improved patient safety, but will also improve occupational safety, allowing hospital employees to spend more time on meaningful tasks. Local planning has made it possible to hear the employees in the process.

“In order to show the employees the new hospitals and let them test them, 3D- models, and virtual reality has been used at several of the construction projects along with the physical mock-ups of future hospital rooms,” explains Kristian Taageby Nielsen, the regions’ consultant in the hospital construction.

Freeing resources to what matters most

Hanne Hansen-Nord hopes the great interest in automation would also result in taking steps towards building an uninterrupted pharmaceutical service (a Closed Loop Medication) – a key to eliminating the human error from the process and saving the personnel’s time to things that only people can do: meaningful and humane care of patients.

Currently NewIcon’s products are in use in three Danish hospitals: The first eMED ICON automated dispensing cabinet trial unit was installed in Odense University Hospital in 2017, and in 2018 Sydvestjysk Hospital in Esbjerg followed suit. The Hospital of Southern Jutland’s unit in the city of Aaberaa is currently working on a pilot study, and the same applies to the Lundbyescentret care home in Aalborg.

The eMED ICON automated dispensing cabinet will support hospitals’ vision for the development of pharmaceutical services: “right medicine, right dose, right administration method, right time and right patient”.

“The nurses using the cabinet feel that it allows for easier and smoother dispensation of medicine than before, with the lights providing clear usage guidance. The automated dispensing cabinet’s speed and safety in selecting medications was also viewed as a positive factor,” explains Hansen-Nord.

More information

Pharmacy automation systems as part of the uninterrupted pharmaceutical service chain
Pharmacy automation systems connected to hospital information systems enables uninterrupted pharmaceutical services, ensuring that patients always get the right dose, administered in the right way and at the right time. Pharmacy automation systems help to reduce medication errors. For example, 200,000 medication errors were reported in Denmark in 2017*.
* Patientsikkerhed og lægemidler.


Pharmacy automation systems
• Automated dispensing cabinet (ADC) for the storage of medicines and medical equipment in wards
• Compounding system for intravenous antibiotics
• Automated dispensing system (ADS) for the shelving, retrieval and packaging of medicines in hospital pharmacy


Super hospitals in Denmark
• 7 new national super hospitals
• 9 existing hospitals are being renovated
• All hospitals will be in use by 2025
• The total budget is EUR 6.4 billion
EUR 0.9 billion has been earmarked for the procurement of medical equipment and
information technology.


Kjeld Møller Pedersen, Professor
Organisation: University of Southern Denmark is the third-largest and the third-oldest
university in Denmark.
Contact information:


Kristian Taageby Nielsen, Consultant
Organisation: Danish Regions is the interest organisation for the five regions in Denmark.
Motto: I look into my heart to see my mistakes. I learn from the night to glow in the dark.
Contact information:


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Pharmacy automation in hospitals

Pharmacy automation in pharmacies

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