McKesson Pharmacy Optimization® Team Identifies Five Health System Pharmacy Trends to Watch in 2017

December 05, 2016

Experts Discuss Health System Pharmacy Trends at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition 2016

LAS VEGAS, December 5, 2016 – The McKesson Pharmacy Optimization® team, a group of trusted advisors that work to help elevate the value of health system pharmacies, has identified the top five trends that will impact hospital and health system pharmacies in 2017. McKesson will be discussing these trends with health system pharmacy leaders at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting 2016, which runs from December 4–8, 2016.

“The role of the clinical pharmacist is rapidly expanding to stay ahead of the changing dynamics brought upon by healthcare reform. The expanding scope of pharmacists’ service and increasing clinical collaboration illustrate key trends and opportunities facing health system pharmacies in the coming year,” said Mark Eastham, Sr. Vice President and General Manager, McKesson Pharmacy Optimization®.

2017 Health System Pharmacy Trends:

1. Continued Growth in Specialty Market:

Growth in specialty pharmaceuticals spend continues to outpace growth in the overall pharmaceutical market and is the top spend category for health system pharmacies. The expansion of limited networks and exclusive distribution channels for many specialty pharmaceuticals challenge health systems’ continuity of care initiatives. However, opportunities still exist for health system pharmacy leaders who understand and can demonstrate the unique clinical and operational competencies and expertise required to build, buy or partner with specialty pharmacies. Additionally, with the growth of biosimilars, pharmacists are poised to play a critical role in evaluating the balance between risks and patient benefit.

2. Leveraging Pharmacy Analytics to Make Strategic Business Decisions:

Integrating comprehensive pharmacy analytics to track and monitor drug spend and use, patient care, and quality is a top priority for health systems. Organizations can use this information to make better financial, clinical and operational decisions and drive improved outcomes. For example, Drug Spend Intelligence is a web-based portal that shows users data on price trends and drug use, which helps identify causes of spending increases and waste and maps ways to contain formulary costs. Sentara Healthcare has been using McKesson’s Drug Spend Intelligence online tool to effectively analyze dollars spent and quantities bought by its diverse pharmacies, Eddie Gutshall, Pharm.D., the pharmacy business manager at Sentara, told Pharmacy Practice News.

3. Health System Pharmacy Seen as a Revenue and Margin Generator:

Managing costs will always be important; however, health systems’ leaders are increasingly looking to pharmacy to generate more revenue and help improve margins. This will continue to drive growth of specialty and increased use of mail order to ship medications directly to patients’ homes. As healthcare consumerism grows, health systems will need to find new ways to capture patients as network participation will not be enough. For example, health systems can extend their continuum of care by providing discharge medications through their ambulatory/retail pharmacies. More and more health systems are looking for partnership opportunities with retail pharmacies to share patient data to ensure all healthcare practitioners have access to current information.

4. Centralizing Pharmacy Operations and Improving Clinical Services:

Sometimes referred to as clinical telepharmacy, the centralization of pharmacy operations is designed to help large health systems utilize a centralized hub to manage costs, improve order entry and verification, and standardize policies and procedures. Using software tools and services like those from PipelineRx, large health systems can free up time for pharmacists and other staff (FTEs) to use more effectively on clinical patient care initiatives and generate revenue by servicing other hospitals, clinics or retail pharmacies. This need for efficiency is also bolstering the use of centralized service centers to streamline pharmaceutical ordering, packaging and dispensing. These centralized functions can result in better efficiency and improved safety and cash flow. The importance of inventory management and supply chain visibility is evidenced by McKesson’s acquisition of Supplylogix, which is a comprehensive inventory management solution designed to help improve supply chain efficiency and improve patient satisfaction.

5. Future Directions for Reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

Healthcare reform and the ACA were key issues throughout the election process, and it is clear that the new administration will look to make changes to the ACA in the coming years. What is not yet clear is how quickly these changes will be implemented and what the impact will be on health systems. However, likely changes include the elimination of the individual mandate, a reduction in taxes associated with the law, the elimination of cost-sharing subsidies, and reversing Medicaid expansion. Removing the mandate will increase the uninsured numbers as charity care cases go back up. Programs such as Pharmaceutical Assistance from manufacturers and services such as MedSource, offered through McKesson, will continue to bring value, ultimately helping health systems to continue to provide care and minimize write-offs.

About McKesson Corporation

McKesson Corporation, currently ranked 5th on the FORTUNE 500, is a healthcare services and information technology company dedicated to making the business of healthcare run better. McKesson partners with payers, hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, and others across the spectrum of care to build healthier organizations that deliver better care to patients in every setting. McKesson helps its customers improve their financial, operational, and clinical performance with solutions that include pharmaceutical and medical-surgical supply management, healthcare information technology, and business and clinical services. For more information, visit

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