Find out how to boost hospital pharmacies’ profits

March 24, 2014

There are many untapped opportunities for hospital pharmacies to boost their bottom lines, including expanding their services and capturing more reimbursements, according to Mary Baxter, RPh, vice president and national practice leader for Cardinal Health’s Innovation Delivery Solutions business.

There are many untapped opportunities for hospital pharmacies to boost their bottom lines, including expanding their services and capturing more reimbursements, according to Mary Baxter, RPh, vice president and national practice leader for Cardinal Health’s Innovation Delivery Solutions business.

Establishing or expanding hospitals’ outpatient pharmacies is one of the best ways to achieve meaningful growth, Baxter recently wrote in Cardinal’s Essential Insights blog. This is particularly essential since medication nonadherence is a leading cause of hospital readmissions.

“With new penalties for hospital readmissions, it's more important than ever that hospitals leverage outpatient pharmacies to help increase the likelihood that patients understand and adhere to their medications. An outpatient pharmacy can provide discharge medications to patients, provide an added convenience that drives patient satisfaction, help answer patient questions, and monitor compliance post-discharge,” Baxter wrote.

Michael Doucette, vice president of operations for the Riverside Health System, agreed that hospitals should provide outpatient pharmacies. "Having the pharmacy in-house means we can reliably direct people to generic drugs and other lower-cost alternatives, saving money in our health plan outlays," Doucette said in the blog post.

In addition, hospital pharmacies must capture all available reimbursement dollars by helping their hospitals improve patient care. For example, IASIS Healthcare implemented a computerized physician order entry system (CPOE) that communicated directly and electronically to the hospital pharmacy to improve medication management. The CPOE also helped the health system meet the government’s Meaningful Use Attainment criteria.

With consultation from Cardinal Health, IASIS Healthcare deployed electronic health records to successfully qualify for $32.2 million in incentive payments from Medicare in 2011-2012, plus $5.4 million in the first quarter of 2013.

"The ability to communicate the prescription electronically to the pharmacist, have it reviewed, have it show up in the electronic medical record, and have the discharge medications rectified - all that is part of Meaningful Use," said Tedd Adair, vice president of clinical operations for IASIS Healthcare, which operates 16 acute care hospitals and other facilities in seven states, in the blog.