Baptist Health nears completion of $40M central pharmacy

Baptist Health's central pharmacy center is months away from filling up to 14,000 prescriptions a day, and the facility will be the nation's most automated central pharmacy. 

By June, the $40 million project will be ready for distribution, and by July or August, it's expected to start filling special medications. Nilesh Desai, chief pharmacy officer of the Louisville, Ky.-based system, told Becker's the center will be as automated as possible. 

To automate processes not done before at other central pharmacy service centers, Mr. Desai and his team said they had to get innovative with vendors and work partly outside the realm of healthcare technology. 

"You can get a lot of different automation that is much more advanced than other sectors, but it seems like healthcare is lacking a little bit, so we had to get creative on how we tried to accomplish some of the tasks that we're looking to set out," said Brandon McLain, PharmD, system director of pharmacy operations at Baptist. 

The pharmacy leadership team is also working to build a backup pharmacy data lakehouse.

Apart from the goal of reducing human errors, the 90,000-square-foot center in La Grange, Ky. will offer visibility into the system's inventory, including Baptist's hospital pharmacies, community pharmacies and about 250 clinics that order medications. In case of a shortage, the system will be able to track stock and redistribute if needed, Dr. McLain said.

To ensure compliance with the 340B program across different care sites, the pharmacy center's technology is set up to handle different classes of trades, from hospitals and ASCs to retail pharmacies and clinics. 

Leslie Hurst, PharmD, Baptist's system director of ambulatory and specialty care, said the central pharmacy will also take some of the burden off the system's other pharmacies. 

"We have 23,000 employees at Baptist Health System, and we fill their maintenance medications and specialty medications at our in-house pharmacies on hospital campuses," she said. "Today, those are really quite small in design to support admitted patients with their discharge medications. We'll be able to free them up to expand services on-site for the acutely ill patients that are in the facility, and then at the same time, broaden our offering for delivery services to our entire employee dependent population."

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