pharmacy technology
May 14, 2024

One of the greatest and ongoing conveniences that offers constant progress certainly lies in technological advances. We see this in every aspect of our daily lives. For evidence of the massive societal shift that technology offers look no further than your cell phone, tablet, or computer. It’s a safe bet that once you think you have it down, the next shiny toy hits the market.

Healthcare, particularly Pharmacy, is not immune to these phenomena. The rapid advancement in all areas of Pharmacy practice aided with well positioned technology has presented an array of opportunities to assist a well-oiled Pharmacy program to elevate to the next level. With that comes the responsibility to utilize the appropriate technology based on the individual needs of the practice environment and to go all in. Think of that treadmill you had to have on January 2nd, to embark on your New Year’s resolution. You either have your ticket to your beach body or a $2000 hanger. It’s all up to you how you employ your shiny new toy.

Let’s look at a few topline thoughts on technology and the how/why you would want it, how you would use it and what may be worth it or not based on your strategic focus.

The first thing to evaluate is your clinical programming and the human involvement you want to incorporate. For this you must evaluate several key points, such as how you want your technicians and pharmacists to matriculate outside the pharmacy. For example, if you want pharmacists rounding more, perhaps have them decentralized permanently, or have technicians circulating on the floors and in the ED say for medication reconciliation, then you need to have the technology to perform automated duties in the pharmacy.

Next you need to look at the cost element. Just because it looks great and has a significant price tag doesn’t mean you need it. Look at the contracts you have to see where you can make deals or lean into a barter type relationship. Maybe if you offer to be a Beta site for new technology, you can get a much better deal if you are willing to share outcomes. Maybe you haven’t made the most of economies of scale and you have some opportunities there.

The next big question is your regulatory readiness and how well you have performed in recent surveys. If you find you are running a fire drill every time you have to produce data on survey, then the technology you need is more along the lines of automated reporting and/or catching issues in real time. For example, if you have automated medication dispensing cabinetry and need to produce diversion information, the reports that are baked into this technology are invaluable.

In terms of technology groupings, let’s break them down into bite size pieces.

Automated Dispensing Machines. Most likely you already have this or want it. The question is do you use all or most of what this system has to offer? Do you have overlapping technology that you don’t need because you have not tapped into the full cadre of offerings your chosen system is capable of? The companies that sell this technology also offer support that is baked into the contract. Talk to them about what they suggest and schedule training and overviews a couple times a year to assure you are up to date on the software, are using the administrative options to their fullest capacity and evaluating anything new that may have been rolled out on their platform. This may seem like a no-brainer although you may be surprised at what you have been missing out on. Maximize everything in your chosen system to create diversion protocols, reduce possible adverse events and to stay ahead of the last outdated pill lurking around just begging to be found on your next survey.

Remote Verification. Let’s say you want to, need to or have no choice but to keep the FTE component down. Depending on your state laws, you likely have the ability to incorporate your ADM’s with remote verification for overnight coverage for example, thus not relegating this to the emergency cabinet that has to be reconciled the next day as well as offering real-time verification of the order to satisfy regulatory oversight. Pharmacy should not be practiced only during daylight hours.

RFID. There are so many options here and the technology is great, but not widespread and/or financially attainable which means grouping RFID into buckets. It can be used for specialty medications using technology that is like a hotel mini fridge essentially making these consignment medications. You only pay when you use them and get reminders when these wildly expensive therapies are about to go out of date. Another great grouping is code cart replenishment and documentation, two big issues for every hospital since the beginning of time. RFID technology can make refilling and checking the trays much more streamlined, allowing for the redirection of pharmacists’ time incorporating the reporting from the RFID and tech on tech checking depending on state laws.

Computerized Physicians Order Entry. Everybody must have it. Many are annoyed by it. Here’s the thing, gradually increasing the use allows for order sets to be used more effectively as well as testing the limits of policy acceptance. Let’s say that your hospital has approved TPN to be written by Clinical Nutrition, and the orders are based on pre-mixed PPN and TPN. In this scenario, physicians’ time is eased up, treatment is expedited, the expertise of Clinical Nutrition is appropriately employed, and the relevance of the program can be evaluated by the reporting that can be obtained. This is an excellent story to tell when the JC shows up in your lobby.

We have mentioned just a scant few of the possibilities available to create an optimized technology infused clinical environment. The choices available and reasoning for use could go on for many articles with one overarching theme which is when thinking about what you have, what you want and what makes sense take the whole picture into account as well as your ability to make the most of your options. To achieve this, ask yourself a few key questions. Am I using what I have to full capacity? What gaps do I need to fill in? Where are our vulnerabilities and what do we struggle with? If you work backwards from there you can engage in a more mindful fashion all around turning your attention to the technology that works for your patients and your practice. 

drug shortages
May 07, 2024

Hospitals and healthcare providers continue to face challenges due to drug shortages. As we know, shortages affect both patient care and treatment protocols. Many life-saving medications have been identified in short supply, posing potential risks to patient outcomes and requiring strategic management and alternatives by healthcare professionals. Hospitals must stay ahead by ensuring the availability of robust strategies to manage these shortages, ensuring that patient care remains uninterrupted and safe.

patient care
Apr 30, 2024

The inclusion of virtual pharmacy in the inpatient hospital setting is a significant shift towards integrating technology with healthcare, presenting unparalleled opportunities to elevate patient care. As we progress towards the 2030 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) healthcare initiatives, the adoption and optimization of Virtual Pharmacy stand out as key priorities for integrated health systems.

Strategic Implementation and Focus Areas

Apr 23, 2024

Leonid Gokhman, PharmD, manager of pharmacy business operations at Harris Health System, takes a proactive approach to running his operation, rather than being reactive. He encourages his pharmacy, nursing, IT and revenue cycle peers to adopt this mindset.

“If you’re reactive, you’re creating so many other issues — not only for yourself, but for multiple teams,” Dr. Gokhman says. “If you're able to put things in place that prevent issues from happening in the first place, you drastically cut down on a lot of clutter, errors and unnecessary work.”

Executive Insights
May 14, 2024

Pharmacy Angle meets with Sarah Newberry, Assistant Director of Pharmacy Services at Arkansas Methodist Medical Center, to discuss her experience and insights on the pharmacy profession from within a community owned facility.

Executive Insights
May 07, 2024

Pharmacy Angle meets with Valerie Hoffman, Senior Marketing Manager at Long Grove Pharmaceuticals, to discuss her career move from hospital pharmacist to working at a pharmaceutical company.

Executive Insights
Apr 30, 2024

Pharmacy Angle meets with Ken Gagnon, AVP Pharmacy Services HealthTrust Performance Group to discuss his career in pharmacy, encouraging the study of pharmacy and his experience with control, diversion and drug shortage solutions in the hospital setting.

Partner Voice
Apr 23, 2024

Pharmacy Angle CEO David Mason and Lani Bertrand, RPh, senior director of clinical consulting at Omnicell discuss the growth, challenges and the prospect of modern solutions to staffing, logistics and service in Pharmacy.

businesses combining
May 16, 2024

PHILADELPHIA and LEHIGH VALLEY, PA — Jefferson and Lehigh Valley Health Network ("LVHN") have signed a definitive agreement to combine, creating a leading integrated academic health care delivery system, alongside a national research university and an expanded not-for-profit health plan. The unified system, which would be in the Top 15 not-for-profit health systems in the U.S., will increase access to high-quality and affordable care, clinical research and health plan offerings and address health inequities for urban and rural communities in Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. The deal is expected to be completed later this summer, pending final reviews and execution of closing conditions. Jefferson and LVHN announced in December that they had signed a letter of intent to combine.

"We are delighted to take this next step toward combining with Lehigh Valley Health Network—it is the future, not only for our organizations but also for care in our region," said Joseph G. Cacchione, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Jefferson. "Through our integrated operating model, the combined organization will provide the communities we serve with access to the highest quality care, the benefits of continuous research and innovation, a network of specialists, clinical trials, and so much more, while also building an organization that prioritizes health through value-based care. This combination promotes access, choice, innovation, opportunity, increased equity and stability—for patients, physicians, faculty, staff, students and health plan members and our communities at-large."

Under the terms of the agreement, the systems will integrate clinical care, operations and identity to create a regional system that delivers the highest quality care to those it serves.

"We could not be more excited about what lies ahead for communities across Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey," said Brian A. Nester, DO, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Lehigh Valley Health Network. "As our collective teams worked these past months, we confirmed what we had believed to be true when we signed our initial letter of intent—Jefferson is the ideal partner for Lehigh Valley Health Network, our teams and our patients. We look forward to continuing the important work of improving the health and well-being of our communities together."

Jefferson and LVHN have long shared a commitment to community and improving lives. Both organizations have embraced models of care that prioritize the health and well-being of patients, investing in the growing field of population health management and quality-focused care services, which when combined will only accelerate. Upon closing, the integrated system will operate 30 hospitals and more than 700 sites of care, supported by more than 65,000 employed faculty, clinicians and staff. The combined organization will offer new educational opportunities for current clinicians and enable exceptional recruiting opportunities. It will expand health plan access that will help vulnerable, at-risk populations receive care to live well and stay out of the hospital. Lastly, the combination will strengthen financial stability, allowing for investments in innovative technologies and better patient outcomes.

Upon the closing of the transaction, Jefferson's Cacchione will continue to serve as Chief Executive Officer of the Jefferson enterprise. LVHN's Nester will serve as Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer of the Jefferson enterprise and President of the legacy Lehigh Valley Health Network, reporting directly to Dr. Cacchione. Dr. Baligh R. Yehia will serve as Executive Vice President/Chief Transformation Officer of the Jefferson enterprise and President of the legacy Jefferson Health, while continuing to report directly to Dr. Cacchione. The newly integrated Board of Trustees and leadership team will be comprised of members from both systems.

Both Jefferson and LVHN will continue to operate as independent entities until the combination closes. The parties are committed to ensuring the patients and communities they serve continue to have access to exceptional care from their clinicians during completion of this process.

Brain illustration
May 14, 2024

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Takeda and AC Immune SA announced an exclusive, worldwide option and license agreement for AC Immune’s active immunotherapies targeting toxic forms of amyloid beta (Abeta), including ACI-24.060 for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Rayburn House Office Building
May 13, 2024

IRVING, TX — Vizient, Inc. hosted a policy briefing on Capitol Hill titled, "Medicare (DIS)Advantage: How MA Plans are Implementing Policies to Limit Access to Care," at the Rayburn House Office Building. The event featured remarks from Reps. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) and Marc Veasey (D-TX), with recorded remarks provided by Rep. Valerie Foushee (D-NC) and was sponsored by Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX).

Pharmacist vaccinating patient
May 10, 2024

UPPER NYACK, NY — The Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) published a policy paper authored by Robert Popovian, PharmD, MS, GHLF’s Chief Science Policy Officer. The paper, titled “Challenges in Adult Vaccination: Policy Strategies for Sustaining Access and Supply,” details the benefits associated with the current vaccine access and payment model for adult vaccination in the United States.