Top 5 ways hospital pharmacies can fulfill their missions

September 8, 2014

Offering 24/7 pharmacy coverage and expanding outpatient services are two ways hospitals can better fulfill their quality care mission, according to Mary Baxter, RPh, vice president, national practice leader with Cardinal Health’s Performance and Outcomes Innovative Delivery Solutions.

 

Mary BaxterOffering 24/7 pharmacy coverage and expanding outpatient services are two ways hospitals can better fulfill their quality care mission, according to Mary Baxter, RPh, vice president, national practice leader with Cardinal Health’s Performance and Outcomes Innovative Delivery Solutions.

In Cardinal Health’s August 29 Essential Insights blog, Baxter discussed five ways hospital pharmacies can fulfill their quality care mission. They are:

1. Offering 24/7 pharmacy coverage. While Baxter understands why only one-third of U.S. hospitals offer 24/7 pharmacy coverage (“Contract labor is expensive, and overtime schedules can often over-tax an already lean pharmacy staff”), she said the coverage gaps could lead to medication safety problems and other issues. “Remote pharmacy services can be an affordable, practical alternative to this problem by ensuring that all medication orders have been reviewed by a pharmacist prior to administration, even during peak-hour coverage or during the third shift. With remote pharmacy, a medication order is faxed or scanned to a centralized pharmacy, staffed with licensed pharmacists trained in your hospital's procedures,” Baxter wrote.

2. Starting or expanding outpatient services. “An increasing number of hospitals are also positioning their pharmacies to become the primary pharmacy for their own employees, making it easier for employees to access medications and medication counseling services from hospital pharmacy staff. This is an especially helpful strategy if your health system self-insures and functions as payor as well as provider,” Baxter wrote.

3. Bedside counseling. “By delivering medications to the patient's bedside, pharmacists can discuss potential side effects, dosage issues, and even familiarize the patient's family members with the medication regimen,” Baxter wrote.

4. Better antibiotic stewardship.  “Effective antibiotic stewardship programs provide tools, information, and processes that enable the pharmacy to improve the appropriate and cost-effective usage of anti-infective medications,” Baxter wrote. “To be successful, however, these programs require a high level of collaboration between pharmacists, physicians, and the rest of the medical team.”

5. Helping uninsured patients. “Millions of patients across the United States cannot afford their medications. This includes the cost of hospital-administered inpatient medications, outpatient medications, and expensive specialty medications,” Baxter said. More hospitals are using programs like Cardinal Health's eRecovery program, which relieve healthcare facilities of the arduous process of connecting patients with and enrolling them in [assistance] programs. “These services help hospitals expand medication access among their most at-risk patients, while also reducing their costs,” Baxter said.