With tight budgets, pharmacy directors focus on lean management principles

June 6, 2014

Shrinking budgets and drug shortages are two of the biggest challenges faced by hospital pharmacy directors, according to a new report.

Shrinking budgets and drug shortages are two of the biggest challenges faced by hospital pharmacy directors, according to a new report.

Kit Check, an automated hospital pharmacy kit and software provider, surveyed pharmacy directors representing 600 hospitals in the United States for its “Hospital Pharmacy Operations Report 2014”.

Ninety-five percent of hospital pharmacy directors said that the lack of budgetary funding to meet new requirements is their biggest challenge. “The message for hospital pharmacy directors is to get ready for more work with the same amount of budget,” said Kit Check CEO Kevin MacDonald. “Operating requirements for hospital pharmacies continue to expand faster than operating budgets. In response, a surprising number of hospital pharmacies are adopting lean management principles and automation technology to increase efficiency.”

Sixty-six percent of pharmacy directors indicated that their budgets for the upcoming year are flat or declining. Alarmingly, 29% of hospitals surveyed have been forced to reduce pharmacist staff and 30% have cut pharmacy technician staff over the past year.

Another top concern of 90% of directors is managing drug shortages. In fact, the 305 active drug shortages that occurred in the first three months of 2014 represented an all-time high, according to the University of Utah Drug Information Center. “Based on this data, you should expect this factor to continue to be a top priority,” the report stated.

The other top concerns of directors include: ensuring integration of pharmacy into patient care, integration with electronic medical records (EMRs), preparing for the Affordable Care Act, diversion, and inventory reduction.

 

Despite budget cuts, survey respondents identified 99 new technology implementation projects for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Eighteen percent of the projects focus on installing, upgrading, or replacing automated dispensing cabinets, 15% pertain to EMRs, 9% focus on computerized physician order entry (CPOE), and 8% pertain to bedside medication administration tracking.

Because hospital pharmacy directors need more funding for these technology projects, Kit Check offered some advice in the report. “Regulatory compliance, safety, and cost savings projects have the highest likelihood of funding approval,” the report stated. “By contrast, other project types are 32% less likely to receive funding.”