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Building Long-Term Value: How VCU Health is Leading the Way in Pharmacy

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Key takeaways:

  • For this blog, we interviewed Rodney Stiltner, Director of Pharmacy Services at VCU Health, to learn how this system is driving pharmacy transformation and value for the future.
  • Key to VCU’s approach includes one GPO; a dedicated team; innovative drug shortage solutions; and meaningful data on medication supply, usage and outcomes.
  • Premier’s pharmacy team is a highly collaborative and engaged partner with our members to help them meet their goals.

For more on this topic:


Based in Richmond, Virginia, VCU Health System is an academic health system committed to preserving and restoring the health of communities through innovation in patient care, research and education.

VCU Health is comprised of Community Memorial Hospital, Tappahannock Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, numerous outpatient facilities, and VCU Medical Center ─ the region’s #1-ranked hospital with:

  • More than 12,000 employees
  • 86,000+ Emergency Department visits in FY20
  • 857,000+ outpatient clinic visits in FY20
  • 37,000+ inpatient discharges in FY20

In late 2019, the system sought to further advance operational excellence and find innovative ways to drive cost-effective services and experiences that meet the unique needs of VCU Health patients, providers and communities.

A key component of this work involved pharmacy transformation ─ across the supply chain, pharmacy operations and via clinical support. To date, VCU Health has realized more than $5 million in savings on total pharmacy spend, despite COVID-19. The system is also on the cutting-edge of innovative technology, leveraging solutions to improve patient outcomes.

We spoke to Rodney Stiltner, Director of Pharmacy Services at VCU Health, to learn more about how the system is building long-term pharmacy value:

The opportunity

We needed a partner who could help us optimize pharmacy performance and build financial resiliency to fulfill our mission of providing high-quality patient care, research and education.

Key to achieving these goals is having a suite of integrated pharmacy solutions:

  • One GPO;
  • A dedicated team of experts;
  • Solutions that provide reliable access to drugs in shortage; and
  • Meaningful data intelligence on medication supply, usage and outcomes.

As a high-performing organization, it’s also vital that we continue to stay up-to-date on the latest practice changes, particularly amid the dynamic environment we’ve experienced throughout the pandemic. Collaboration, with industry experts and pharmacy leader peers across the nation, is key to working through any crisis. It provides valuable collective perspective about the situation, and it provides opportunities to work together to find solutions.

The solution

Alongside shortages and rising drug costs, healthcare facilities need to see as much value as possible from their pharmacy strategy.

Together with Premier, we analyzed our operations and identified opportunities to standardize, reduce waste and improve care. This included pinpointing opportunities to convert to contracted products and conducting a comprehensive analysis of therapeutic alternatives.

Premier tapped its PINC AI™ technology platform to identify savings and created a roadmap for how we'd realize opportunities. Anytime we can create savings and efficiencies at VCU Health, that brings value. Being able to lower the cost of care and provide care to the people in the communities we serve is our calling and mission.

Our GPO conversion was just the beginning of what has been a fruitful partnership for VCU Health.

The results

To date, Premier has helped us achieve financial and operational efficiencies, gain access to vital shortage products and innovate for the future. These outcomes have occurred because VCU Health and Premier have worked in partnership to drive results.

Key initiatives have included:

  • Accessing vital shortage drugs. The pandemic started to impact our operations just as we began the implementation of this program with Premier, and we were deeply focused on securing the necessary therapeutics for our caregivers and patients. During COVID-19 and beyond, ProvideGx has been a vital means for VCU Health to reliably access drugs that are chronically in shortage. The commitment-driven model helps solves for repeated historical supply and/or price issues, allowing for greater market competition, stabilization and stability.
  • Pinpointing drugs’ appropriate use. PINC AI Service Line Analytics-Pharmacy (SLA-Pharmacy), combines purchasing, utilization and quality data to analyze drug usage and outcomes. Leveraging SLA-Pharmacy has enabled VCU Health to pinpoint our investment in drug cost, benchmark against peers and monitor progress on an ongoing basis. Through data-driven decision making, we’re able to adjust utilization criteria, resulting in improved patient outcomes, standardization and a more cost-effective approach to medication use.
  • Solving challenges together for the future. The power of the Premier alliance has been on full display during the pandemic ─ and it’s been a vital source of information and intelligence for us at VCU Health. Premier’s Pharmacy and supply chain experts began hosting weekly member calls to share the latest COVID-related updates, best practices and guidance, and conducted member surveys to assess challenges and needs. The ability to connect with experts and pharmacy leaders across the nation ─ from both academic and other health systems ─ to discuss trends and challenges, and strategize around best practices and strategies, has been instrumental for us.

What advice would you give to other health systems?

Find a partner who will collaborate with you to meet your goals. Premier’s pharmacy team has been highly engaged with our pharmacy team. This engagement, data sharing, networking and resource connections have given us the tools we need to drive change with our clinical caregivers. These changes have resulted in the product access, efficiencies and cost savings that are needed right now.

You’ll also achieve results better and faster by working with a partner with whom you can be transparent. We are guided by innovation and improvement, and our mission motivates us to transparently share ideas, data and roadblocks with our partners so they can do their jobs better.

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