Guest spot: Effective hospital pharmacy leadership: You can do it

May 12, 2008

McKesson's High Performance Pharmacy program has helped many hospital pharmacies develop effective leaders

Backed by the Health Systems Pharmacy Executive Alliance-an independent group of leaders dedicated to advancing hospital pharmacy-the HPP concept identifies 78 specific practice elements across eight dimensions of performance that can help hospital pharmacies maximize clinical and financial returns. The eight dimensions are: leadership, medication preparation and delivery, patient care services, medication safety, medication use policy, financial performance, human resource management, and education.

A leader in a HPP is more than a manager. A leader creates a clear vision for the organization and motivates others to embrace it. A leader can simultaneously balance concurrent initiatives in a way that maps to the organization's larger vision. For example, multiple projects may be required to improve medication safety, such as implementing new automation systems and enforcing new processes. An effective leader manages these projects in a balanced way so that improved medication safety is achieved. In contrast, less successful leaders often attempt to juggle multiple initiatives that don't relate to a unified goal. For example, simultaneously implementing new automation technology and recruiting clinical staff - two very different initiatives-may only impede the progress of both initiatives.

By practicing HPP leadership skills, DOPs can discern which initiatives to focus on and how to achieve success. The first dimension of the HPP approach, leadership, has five critical components to help DOPs grow from managers to leaders:

1. Core self is the basis of consistency in values and professional judgment. If leaders communicate openly about their values, their staff will always know where they stand, thus fostering an environment of credibility, trust, and a clear understanding of the organization's shared vision.

2. Vision involves identifying opportunities for pharmacy within the overall health system and knowing how and when to adapt them for the organization. For example, a strong vision is needed for DOPs to fully capitalize on the many opportunities to improve drug safety.

3. Relationships involve clearly articulating a common vision with pharmacy staff, health-system administrators, medical and nursing staffs, peers in other departments, and the community.

4. Learning is a basic requirement of all leaders. Regularly reading up to 10 industry journals is a good habit to form, as is attending local, state, and national pharmacy meetings.

5. Mentoring encompasses cultivating future leaders and obtaining mentors of your own.