This article is about the benefits of utilizing telepharmacy software and workflow in multi-facility organizations. If you are interested in how telepharmacy can be utilized in individual hospitals, see part one: Telepharmacy Services.
When most people think of telepharmacy, they think of remote pharmacists supporting smaller independent hospitals. While this is one of the original and most common use cases for telepharmacy, multi-facility organizations are now applying telepharmacy concepts, technologies, and workflows to optimize their own onsite pharmacy staff and to transform their pharmacy operations.
Pharmacy efficiency is central to improving overall hospital operations.
By centralizing the medication order review process, IDNs can consolidate their disparate pharmacist resources into a single, highly flexible, virtual pool, providing:
- Significant flexibility in scheduling and coverage, also known as load balancing
- More consistent turnaround times across all facilities and shifts
- Lower operating costs from labor savings or redeployment
- Freed up resources to focus on high-value clinical initiatives designed to improve patient care, reduce readmissions and boost pharmacy-nursing relations
Centralizing Order Management Optimizes Pharmacy Resources
Even though multi-facility organizations have dozens of pharmacists in their network, each pharmacist works at a particular facility. This means that even the largest healthcare organizations face many of the same inefficiencies as single hospitals: inconsistent turnaround times, high staffing and overtime costs, and staff who are often either backlogged or underutilized.
Load-balancing across existing pharmacy resources optimizes operations.
Just as telepharmacy software provides remote pharmacists with a centralized queue across multiple organizations, the same technology can be employed within a health system to create a single, visible medication order queue… and in so doing radically streamlines workflow throughout the organization.
Capture or Redeploy Labor Savings
The impact can be significant. For example, if you have 20 pharmacists across multiple facilities, optimizing workflow can reduce labor requirements by as much as 30%. This equates to 6.6 FTEs, which can then be redeployed to other high-value initiatives. This optimized process simultaneously smooths out coverage reducing variability in medication order review time, resulting in improved patient care and increased pharmacist and nursing satisfaction.
As another example, if you have certain low utilization shifts, such as overnight or on weekends, you could provide that coverage with fewer pharmacists that have clear visibility into the medication order queue across multiple facilities.
Improve Patient Care
By optimizing pharmacy operations, you free up pharmacists to participate more actively in patient care. Research shows that the more pharmacists are involved with direct care, the more patient health and satisfaction improves through the reduction of preventable adverse drug events (PADEs) and prescribing errors.
When pharmacists are more directly involved in patient care, the more patient health and satisfaction improves.
Expand Clinical Initiatives
In addition to a more active role in patient care, optimized operations give pharmacists more time to expand critical clinical initiatives and programs. Having better clinical programs further helps the entire healthcare organization to improve quality outcomes, attract top-tier physicians, and get access to new technologies.
Clinical programs can include:
- Discharge management
- Antimicrobial stewardship
- Medication reconciliation
- Opioid oversight
- Chronic disease management
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