5 features pharmacists need in drug supply management software

Hospital pharmacists often face the tough decision of how to best manage drug shortages. Even though there is a vast amount of data on the pharmaceutical supply chain, pharmacists don't have access to software that can help them best respond to changing trends.

During a Nov. 18 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by IBM Watson Health, Tina Moen, PharmD, senior deputy chief health officer and chief pharmacy officer at IBM Watson Health, moderated a discussion with three pharmacists on how hospitals could better manage drug shortages.

Dr. Moen spoke with:

  • Linda Elbers, PharmD, clinical solutions executive, IBM Watson Health

  • Adam Orsborn, PharmD, MS, CEO and co-founder, OrbitalRx

  • Jim Lund, PharmD, director of pharmacy operations, departmental strategy and innovation, Massachusetts General Hospital

Five key features that pharmacists need in drug supply management software:

  1. The ability to respond to trends through automated information. Dr. Orsborn said one of the biggest challenges facing hospital pharmacists is the lack of structures in place to provide them with the real-time information they need to make quick decisions once they see drug supply chain trends changing. He also said real-time data should exist in a system with an interactive interface so pharmacists can dynamically engage with it and come up with actionable interventions

  2. Standardized, accessible data. It's not that there's a lack of data about the drug supply chain, but rather that pharmacists don't have access to systems that help them understand the larger implications of that data and how data from different sources relate to each other, Dr. Lund said.

  3. Transparency and accountability mandates. If hospitals were required to give pharmacists access to real-time pharmacy supply chain data, they could deploy artificial intelligence and advanced analytical models to gather insights and predict when shortages would emerge. This would be a "predict and prevent" model instead of a "fail and fix" one, according to Dr. Elbers.

  4. Data systems that learn from the past. Drug supply chain management software should be able to house information on how past drug shortages were handled in a facility and direct pharmacists toward interventions that were proven to be effective, Dr. Lund said.

  5. Alternative treatment assessment models. When a drug shortage arises, automated data systems should bring all alternatives into one single view so pharmacists can access which treatment option will be best, according to Dr. Elbers.

To learn more about IBM Watson Health, click here.

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