Your hospital pharmacy has a lot on its plate. You need to reduce costs and generate more revenue, all while delivering better patient care. This isn’t easy to achieve. But with a few solid strategies, you can improve patient care while also managing your budget. Read on to discover four ways to improve both clinical and financial results at your hospital pharmacy.

1. Dig into drug spend analytics

To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been. Taking a look at your drug spend is a key way to improve both clinical and financial results. You need to analyze your drug spend to make better choices for the future. In “Why Drug Spend Analytics Should Be at the Center of Your Hospital Pharmacy,” Yen Nguyen discusses exactly why this is so valuable. Nguyen is vice president of analytics for McKesson RxO and a pharmacist herself. She explains that with the right analytics, you gain insight into your spend that can help you:

  • Track trends and variances
  • Spot drivers of drug costs (such as drug prices, patient volume and severity of illnesses)
  • Identify changes in drug spend over time and by facility

This data can lead to several clinical and financial benefits. Financially, it helps you contain your drug spend. When you can flag an issue in real time, you address it in the moment instead of waiting for that issue to eat up your budget. Gaining this insight helps you save money while still stocking the drugs your patients need.

Clinically, insight into your drug spend benefits your patients, too. It helps you see the full picture of medication use. It helps you see whether certain medications are effective. And it tells you if the length of the drug therapy was appropriate for the patient. When you have this complete picture, you can help your patients make better decisions.

2. Plan ahead so you can carry new drugs

When a revolutionary new drug hits the market, your hospital pharmacy should be able to stock it for your patients. But biologics and specialty drugs can be incredibly costly. You need to manage access to these drugs in a way that makes financial sense, so both your patients and your pharmacy benefit. In “New Drugs Require Strategic Planning for Hospital Pharmacies,” Terry Smith explains how having a thorough strategy can help. Smith is the vice president of McKesson RxO. He suggests you create a strategic plan that allows you to carry new drugs when they become available.

Use these tactics to plan ahead for new drugs:

  • Prioritize cost savings and revenue generating opportunities (such as formulary management and purchasing controls)
  • Focus more on the outpatient and ambulatory practice of your pharmacy
  • Incorporate a cross-disciplinary team within your health system to drive results and positive patient outcomes

Get all leaders and colleagues on board with the planning process. When you plan ahead, you can still carry new drugs that have the potential to change your patients’ lives while protecting your hospital pharmacy’s budget.

3. Tap into supply chain data

Many hospital pharmacies have automated their supply chain processes—but it turns out that few actually use the data within those systems to inform decisions. Cindy Jeter discusses this in “Empower Your Hospital Pharmacy’s Supply Chain Through Data.” Jeter is a supply chain management consultant for McKesson RxO. She recommends you look at your supply chain data to improve inventory management, which helps both your business and your patients.

Jeter explains your supply chain data can tell you important things about the drugs you need to have on hand, including:

  • Whether the demand for a drug has diminished
  • If a newer drug with better clinical results is available
  • Whether you need to adjust your PAR levels (the amount of a drug you should safely have onsite at a given time)

This valuable data can help you prevent drug shortages and ensure you’re giving patients the most effective treatments possible. And it can help you understand how much of a drug your pharmacy should stock at any given time to stay financially successful.

4. Optimize patient assistance programs

Patient assistance programs (PAPs) make medications more affordable for patients who wouldn’t otherwise be able to pay for them. From a clinical perspective, this is positive. Patients get the drugs they need. But from a financial perspective, PAPs are getting harder to administer for hospital pharmacies. Drug costs have gone up. High-deductible health plans are more common than ever. And hospitals have had to assume more financial risk under value-based reimbursement.

In “How Hospital Pharmacies Can Optimize Patient Assistance Programs,” Craig Dolan offers tips for how your hospital pharmacy can better manage PAPs to help patients without draining your budget. Dolan is the vice president of advisory services for McKesson RxO. He suggests using three strategies to optimize PAP performance:

  • Education and training. Educate your staff on the health plans patients have access to. They should understand the different benefits within each. They should be aware of the different patient assistance programs available. They should understand the mechanics of each as they pertain to eligible patients.
  • Technology. Implement PAP management tools, including a database that gives you visibility into every aspect of PAP management.
  • Professional support. Outsource some or all PAP management to a third party that can help you drive meaningful results. Doing so can boost PAP enrollment of eligible patients.

Your pharmacy is not in a financial position to simply give away costly medications. But from a clinical perspective, you want patients to receive the care they need. Optimizing your patient assistance programs helps more patients receive the drugs they need without draining your pharmacy’s budget.

Amidst all you have to balance at your hospital pharmacy, sometimes it can feel like clinical and financial goals are at odds. But when you think strategically and use careful planning and analysis, your hospital pharmacy can improve patient care while also seeing financial success.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s patient assistance programs for hospital pharmacies

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to sharing innovative approaches and insights so our customers can get the most out of their business solutions and identify areas for operational improvement and revenue growth.

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