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How St. Luke’s University Health Network is Using Technology for Drug Shortage Preparedness and Response

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Key takeaways:

  • Providers today are leveraging innovative technology and data to help manage and solve for supply chain challenges and drug shortages.
  • For St. Luke's University Health Network, CognitiveRx® has allowed for an innovative, technology-enabled approach to better understand product availability and risk, increase efficiencies and value, and help stabilize drug supply enterprise wide.
  • Providers must become increasingly proactive and prepared when it comes to supply chain risk and resiliency.

For more on this topic:


From a recent Premier survey of 150 health-system pharmacy leaders and front-line staff, respondents ranked developing shortage risk assessments as the most useful strategy to prevent or mitigate drug shortages.

Premier also surveyed 56 generic drug manufacturers, who for their part, cited improved communications with trading partners and providers as a top priority.

These needs for both providers and suppliers can both be addressed through robust, timely and transparent data – and today, providers are leveraging innovative technology to help manage and solve for supply chain challenges and drug shortages.

Leveraging the Power of Technology & Data

CognitiveRx is a comprehensive drug shortage risk management and communication platform ─ containing hundreds of millions of proprietary and open-source data points spanning more than 30 years. CognitiveRx capabilities are allowing providers across the nation to:

  • Pinpoint market signals for early shortage detection and management;
  • Monitor reimbursement, and calculate and track cost savings; and
  • Plan and communicate medication strategies in advance with all caregivers.

Honing capabilities through intelligence from signals in sourcing and fulfillment, the tool can offer time and transparency – value which allows providers preparation and communication to respond to an outage before it impacts patient care.

For example, a retrospective CognitiveRx analysis conducted on two recent shortages (paclitaxel protein-bound and protamine sulfate) that necessitated changes in therapeutic protocols illustrated progressively worsening supply shortages for both drugs in recent months (Figs A, B). Using identified shortages and establishing custom parameters, pharmacy experts flagged potential shortage signals weeks to months before official shortage notifications were issued by the FDA. Additionally, leveraging CognitiveRx can help provide sourcing professionals with information on routine drug supply volatility and can encourage early engagement with suppliers to identify upstream challenges in sourcing raw materials and supplies that could impact long-term downstream consequences. CogRx.JPG#asset:6040

Source: Premier CognitiveRx data

CognitiveRx in Action: St. Luke’s University Health Network

St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a leading 13-hospital system providing comprehensive patient care throughout Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey.

Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, the SLUHN Pharmacy team recognized early on the need for greater visibility and predictability into their drug supply as well as the automation of cumbersome manual tasks. As such, SLUHN employed CognitiveRx for an innovative, technology-enabled approach to better understand product availability and risk, increase efficiencies and value, and help stabilize drug supply enterprise wide.

For SLUHN, CognitiveRx has served as a one-stop shop to look at their pharmaceutical supply chain – from purchasing to product utilization to price changes – saving the team time and energy to focus on other pressing items. The tool has also been key in helping the system manage inventory levels and anticipate buy-ins (or advance purchases) to help mitigate shipping delays and costs with some of their high-dollar products, such as infusion medications. This buy-in feature enables a customer’s delivery systems to manage products at high risk for predicted price increases.

“Knowledge is power. We can’t understand, nor can we measure, what we can’t see,” said Peter Hlavinka, Pharmacy Manager at St. Luke’s University Health Network. “CognitiveRx technology brings in all of our disparate data points for a more complete picture and a single source of truth in considerably less time, and that’s vital for us.”

Hlavinka is also a proponent of increased supplier and wholesaler transparency and data sharing overall. “A lack of transparency and visibility leads to knee-jerk reactions as well larger pharmaceutical market and supply chain issues. With more information and data, I can better manage inventory and provider expectations, make necessary adjustments, and ultimately, not cause additional waves that contribute to the larger problem.”

CognitiveRx and the broader PINC AI™ technology suite is helping providers quantify risk and mitigate future disruptions, more accurately manage contracts, automate invoicing and payments, streamline operations and manage supply chain costs, all in one place. 

It’s clear that both in and out of a pandemic, providers must become increasingly proactive and prepared when it comes to supply chain risk and resiliency. In other words, technology enablement is the key to a modern, more effective and more resilient supply chain.

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