Hospital pharmacies anticipate positive 2002 financially

December 10, 2001

business outlook 2001/2002



Hospital pharmacies anticipate positive 2002 financially

Financially speaking, 2001 is turning out to be a pretty good year for hospital pharmacies, and it appears as if hospital pharmacists expect the financial picture for 2002 to be almost as favorable.

According to the results of an exclusive survey conducted by Drug Topics and Hospital Pharmacist Report, 39% of the hospital R.Ph.s claim that 2001 is turning out to be a good year; 24% describe it as very good; and 6% reported that 2001 has been an excellent year. Twenty-five percent of the respondents characterized 2001 as a fair year in terms of reaching their financial goals, while 6% said it was a poor year.

What's the forecast for 2002? Forty-five percent of the respondents expect it to be good, 15% very good, and 2% excellent. Thirty-five percent are expecting a fair year financially in 2002, and 3% of the respondents are anticipating a poor year.

Respondents to the survey reported having $6.2 million on average in their 2001 departmental budget for drugs, personnel, and miscellaneous expenses. In contrast, respondents to last year's survey reported having $6.9 million on average in their departmental budget for 2000.

Eighteen percent of the respondents to this year's survey said they were asked to cut their 2001 departmental drug budget, and 14% were asked to cut their personnel budget. On average, drug budgets were cut by 8% and personnel budgets by 7%.

What's on tap in 2002? Seventy-five percent of the respondents said that they expect their 2002 departmental drug budgets to increase, 23% are expecting their budget to remain the same, while 2% are anticipating a drug budget decrease. On average, those respondents who are anticipating an increase are expecting a 9% hike.

Regarding personnel budgets for 2002, 80% of the respondents expect pharmacist salaries to increase, while 19% believe that they will remain the same, and 1% anticipate a decrease. Of those respondents who expect higher salaries, the average hike expected is 7%. When asked in 2000 what they expected the average salary increase to be in 2001, respondents said 6%.

About 74% of respondents expect to see an increase in technician and other nonpharmacist salaries in 2002. The remaining 26% expect salaries to stay the same.

On the topic of workload, 62% of the respondents believe that their pharmacy's total number of pharmacist-personnel hours will remain the same, 33% anticipate the number of hours to increase, and 5% believe that they will decrease in 2002. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents believe the size of their pharmacy staff will remain the same in 2002, 29% expect an increase, and 4% foresee a decrease.

Practically all of the responding pharmacists, 97%, said that there is a shortage of pharmacists in their area of the country. Of those respondents who reported a shortage, 36% said it is extremely severe, 62% think it is somewhat severe, and only 2% said it is not at all severe in their region. Just about nine out of 10 respondents anticipate difficulty in finding pharmacists for employment in their part of the country in 2002.

Regarding the hot button issue of pharmaceutical care, 63% of the respondents reported that their hospital is somewhat involved in pharmaceutical care, 31% noted that their facility is very involved, and 6% said their hospital is not involved. However, more than two-thirds, 68%, said their pharmacy plans to increase its involvement in pharmaceutical care in 2002, 14% asserted that they have no plans for such activity, and 19% said that they just don't know what the future of pharmaceutical care is in their pharmacy.

By comparison, 66% of the pharmacists who responded to last year's survey said that their pharmacy had planned to increase its involvement in pharmaceutical care in 2001, while 12% said that they had no plans to increase their involvement and 21% said they didn't know what their plans are.

On the technology front, 76% of the respondents said that their hospital has a Web site. Yet, of those, only 30% revealed that the pharmacy is featured on the site. About half of the respondents reported that drug dispensing is automated at their facility. Of those hospitals that do have such technology, 74% have plans to expand it. Among those that currently do not have automated dispensing technology, 29% plan to move in that direction next year.

Almost 90% of the respondents reported that they do not have a computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system in their hospital. Twenty-four percent of those currently without CPOE said they plan to install such a system in 2002.

A little over one-quarter (28%) of the respondents revealed that their hospital has had a problem with antibiotic resistance in 2001. When asked what they did to combat the problem, 34% said that they added antibiotics on their formulary, 33% moved to more narrow-spectrum coverage, and 23% used an antibiotic-rotation system.

When asked which drug class had the greatest impact on their budgets this year, respondents reported that antibiotics and oncology/chemotherapy agents were at the top of the list. Other classes mentioned included blood modifiers, cardiovascular drugs, glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, anticoagulants, biotech agents, and anesthesia drugs.

Anthony Vecchione


Tony Vecchione. Hospital pharmacies anticipate positive 2002 financially.

Drug Topics