3 lessons learned to build a more resilient pharmacy
Winston Churchill had great insight when he said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste. Although he was talking about seizing opportunities during the darkest hours of World War II, there are parallels with today, especially when you think about the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare organizations have learned – and continue to learn – much about the strengths and weaknesses of the US healthcare system during a protracted crisis. It would be unfortunate if we did not use this information to introduce much needed changes.
Looking back on the past two years, it is fair to say that hospitals, health systems and other healthcare organizations have struggled to manage rapid changes in patient volume, cascading staff shortages, the developments in treatments and vaccines and persistent supply chain issues. These challenges have led to unprecedented treatment delays, increased costs of care, and frustration for patients and care teams. The long term effects are not yet visible.
While we are still grappling with many challenges posed by the pandemic, we have an opportunity as an industry to learn from our experiences and improve in ways that will help us respond faster and more effectively. to the next crisis, whatever form it takes. take.
Pharmacy is an area where applying lessons learned could be beneficial
Even though drugs are the primary treatment modality for many conditions, modernizing pharmacy has not been a top priority for healthcare organizations. The pandemic has certainly brought to light that the old way of doing pharmacy, which often relies on manual and error-prone processes, needs to evolve. A more efficient pharmacy built on an intelligent infrastructure of automation, intelligence, and expert services will better position this key function to respond more quickly to challenges, plan for a broader role in clinical care, and ultimately improve outcomes.
Here are three ways we can learn from recent health challenges and build a more resilient pharmacy.
1. Leverage data intelligence. By leveraging the data that already exists across the continuum of care, health systems can strengthen medication management and mitigate risk. Data intelligence tools that analyze key information, such as expiration dates, drug location, therapeutic use, drug volume, and dispensing rates, can paint a picture of the supply chain. pharmacy supply. The increased visibility into an organization’s data can identify excess inventory, prioritize distributions based on expiration date, uncover out-of-stock risks, and inform purchasing decisions. Pharmacists can use these tools during a medical emergency to create an electronic dashboard that shows the existing supply of essential therapies, allowing the pharmacy to communicate with the rest of the organization about available drugs, those that are in short supply, those that could be replaced, and so on.
2. Deploy cutting-edge technology. Even though robots have been used in other areas of healthcare with some success, hospitals and healthcare systems have struggled to implement this technology in pharmacy. However, with recent advances, the opportunities for using robotics to improve medication management are increasing. For sterile IV preparation, in particular, robotic technology has advanced to the point where it can dial faster than humans while improving accuracy and sterility. With the economy tougher than ever for hospitals and healthcare systems, these solutions can generate a positive return on cash flow by reducing reliance on 503B contractors and reducing medication waste in the OR .
The safety and efficiency benefits of medication management technology are well known, but adopting this technology through an “as a service” model enables healthcare systems to better optimize workforce efficiency. and reduce the challenges caused by labor shortages. Experts specifically dedicated to robot technology management lead to faster return on investment and continuous optimization, freeing up existing staff for other higher value tasks.
3. Develop the role of the pharmacist. While implementing technology is an important step in optimizing pharmaceutical operations, healthcare organizations need to rethink the role of the pharmacist.
This idea is being played out on a national scale with two bipartisan laws which aim to confer the status of care provider on pharmacists in certain situations. The legislation recognizes that pharmacists can assist other health care providers in providing certain types of patient care when there is a shortage of primary care providers. This can include medication management, point-of-care testing, vaccinations, and chronic disease management. If passed, these bills would allow Medicare to pay for services already reimbursed by a number of commercial payers in several states.
Granting health care provider status to pharmacists could help reduce health disparities. It could also pave the way for strengthening healthcare delivery models that could be deployed in a crisis. As new emergencies arise, pharmacists may have the opportunity to engage in care delivery, support other clinicians, and help patients who do not have access to primary care services to receive timely interventions during uncertain times.
The pharmacy is at a crossroads
Healthcare organizations have a decision to make. They can continue to rely on outdated manual methods that hinder productivity and increase risk, or they can seize the opportunity of technology to transform pharmacy operations, elevating the role of the pharmacist. By introducing automation and leveraging data intelligence, organizations can improve consistency, efficiency, and resilience while enabling pharmacists to operate at the peak of their license. This transformational approach can improve patient care in the short term and better prepare healthcare organizations for what’s to come.
About Denis Wright
Dennis Wright is Senior Director, Product Marketing for Omnicell, and is responsible for leading product marketing efforts for Omnicell’s portfolio of automation, intelligence and technology services solutions. These technologies support the intelligent infrastructure that will realize the vision of autonomous pharmacy. Mr. Wright holds a bachelor’s degree from Thiel College and a marketing-focused MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, Katz School of Business.