How hospital pharmacies can cut costs and improve clinical outcomes

With the COVID-19 pandemic placing many hospitals under unprecedented financial pressure, pharmacies provide an often-overlooked opportunity for cost savings and revenue generation. By taking steps to reduce costs in the pharmacy and implement process improvements, hospitals can improve their financial standing in a time where many are currently struggling. Improved visibility to the pharmacy may reveal new potential sources of revenue, enhance clinical outcomes and allow peak performance to be sustained long term. It may be a good time to explore a restructure or culture change within the pharmacy to prepare for a future crisis.

During a July 23 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Comprehensive Pharmacy Services, three pharmacy industry experts discussed steps pharmacies can take to improve their finances and reduce operational risks. 

The speakers were: 

  • Chuck Ball, Division President at CPS
  • Gentry Hughes, Executive Vice President of CPS
  • Chuck Fogle, PharmD, Vice President of Clinical Solutions at CPS

Five key takeaways from their discussion: 

  1. COVID-19 has put the financial squeeze on hospitals. The pandemic has already caused hospitals to lose millions of dollars due to cancellations of elective procedures. Hospitals are predicted to lose an estimated $325 billion between March and December 2020, according to the American Hospital Association. Hospitals also face lower patient volume, with an average decline of 19.5 percent in inpatient volume and 34.5 percent decline in outpatient volume. To overcome these challenges, hospitals need to be nimble and forward-thinking, and a hospital's pharmacy can make a sizable financial difference quickly.

  2. Comprehensive Pharmacy Services helps pharmacies reduce costs and bring savings to their hospitals. CPS focuses on improvement in four main areas: clinical, operational, financial and regulatory. The company puts safety and efficacy first while scrutinizing costs and helping pharmacies improve regulatory compliance and reduce operational risk. Its collaboration model uses benchmarking and tracking tools to get insights into pharmacy operations. CPS also performs an extensive, 450-plus point audits for their clients to help them achieve visibility to the true state of their pharmacy. This reveals areas where pharmacies have room for improvement and where they can reduce costs.

  3. It's critical to focus on regulatory and compliance before cost-saving. CPS' regulatory team focuses on areas such as sterile compounding, 340B and controlled substances. CPS' USP <797> sterile compounding continuous readiness program provides assessment and implementation guidelines to ensure your pharmacy is best prepared for any audit. Its 340B Continuous Readiness Program helps pharmacies maintain compliance and maximize 340B program savings.

  4. Clinical performance often gets separated from financial impact, but CPS' model ensures pharmacies never sacrifice clinical outcomes for financial gain. The focus is on creating better clinical results with lower-cost medications.

    CPS recently launched its Comprehensive Purchasing Alliance, which is meant to serve as a secondary GPO to help pharmacies lower pricing. The CPA leverages group purchasing power, negotiates on behalf of the member and is accessible at no cost for CPS clients.

  5. Planning for a long-term change in your pharmacy's culture can prepare you for a future crisis. CPS encourages pharmacies to think of the long-term benefits of transforming their pharmacy operations and culture as beneficial to preparing for a future crisis that may be similar to COVID-19. Pharmacies may benefit from reapplying resources and retaining headcount. They may also benefit from a remote pharmacy service provider, such as CPS TELEpharmacy, to provide improved bandwidth and assurance that demand will be met as patient and staffing volumes fluctuate. A collaboration with CPS focuses on standardization, seeks to align with key stakeholders and works to optimize and innovate over the course of the partnership.

To view the full webinar, click here

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