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Three Ways Pharmacy is Driving Healthcare Innovation

A critical component of the healthcare ecosystem, pharmacy has undergone a significant transformation in recent years – with pharmacists’ elevated role in driving improvement and value for healthcare providers and patients.

Through an expanded scope and multidisciplinary collaboration, this shift marks a new era in pharmacy practice, where pharmacists are empowered to bring about systemic, transformative change.

National Pharmacy Week 2023 is a time to recognize and celebrate the vital role of pharmacy on the healthcare team – and for the continued delivery of outstanding patient care. Here are three key ways pharmacy is making a powerful impact on healthcare today and for the future.

Enhancing Clinical Care

Pharmacy’s evolution has paved the way for expanded clinical services that go beyond traditional expectations, ultimately helping to ensure quality care and save lives.

Today, clinical pharmacy and medication safety leaders are on the frontlines of safeguarding patient care by identifying and resolving medication-related problems, preventing adverse drug events, and optimizing therapy utilization and efficacy.

In the changing healthcare landscape, pharmacists are increasingly seen as critical partners in the multi-disciplinary care team addressing complex patient needs.

Particularly in response to the opioid crisis, pharmacists are assuming a greater role in pressing patient safety issues, such as appropriate use, readmission reductions and medication safety. Pharmacists are leveraging technology to monitor and prevent controlled substance diversion, implement interdisciplinary treatment protocols, promote intravenous medication pump safety, recommend multi-modal therapy, and counsel patients on safety and adherence. Through these efforts, pharmacists are also personalizing patient treatment plans and helping to bridge gaps in care during transitions between healthcare settings.

Influencing clinical practice change with actionable data can reduce healthcare expenditures while maintaining or improving quality. And today, health system pharmacy leaders across the nation are turning to advanced clinical intelligence technology solutions that combine purchasing, utilization and quality data to appropriately analyze drug usage and outcomes. This enables care teams to make smarter, evidence-based interventions and reinforces appropriate use and treatment guidelines.

Working collaboratively with physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, pharmacists are enabling more cohesive and patient-centered care and improved outcomes.

Driving Supply Chain Resiliency

U.S. healthcare providers continue to navigate about 300 active drug shortages every quarter ─ shortages that contribute to millions more in annual costs and less-than-optimal therapeutic choices.

While pharmaceutical supply chain disruptions remain prevalent, pharmacy leaders and teams are deploying innovative strategies to help prevent and resolve drug shortages and provide greater access to life-saving products.

With the integration of advanced technology and data analytics, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are empowered to forecast utilization patterns and make informed decisions. Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to mine robust data, they are proactively harnessing technology to signal and address potential shortages, optimizing inventory management strategies, and even anticipating demand fluctuations to prevent stockouts.

Additionally, 3 out of 4 healthcare leaders say domestic manufacturing is an “extremely” or “very important” component to their organizations’ supply chain resiliency strategies, according to Premier’s recent survey. As a result, Premier member pharmacy leaders are stepping up and taking action with investments in domestic manufacturers – providing up-front liquidity, aggregated demand and buying commitments that provide the surety needed to expand production, invest in redundancies, modernize facilities and drive innovations for sustainable resiliency.

In 2023 alone, Premier programs have delivered more than 143 million doses of medications in shortage to members – serving as a testament to the impact of long-term commitment designed to drive a steady demand signal, predictability and secure supply in an otherwise volatile industry. We thank our member pharmacy teams for your leadership and action in working with Premier to develop collaborative, concrete solutions that address drug shortages and build healthier pharmaceutical markets.

Supporting Operational Efficiencies and Enterprise Value

The pharmacy enterprise within health-systems is growing increasingly complex. Increasingly, providers understand the vital need to unlock greater value from pharmacy operations – driving margin improvement, efficiencies and the continued delivery of outstanding patient care.

As a catalyst for innovation, pharmacists today are leveraging AI-enabled technology and robust data to unveil streamlined processes and savings opportunities in medication purchasing and usage – and support meaningful change for patients and providers.

As one health system Chief Pharmacy Officer notes: “The better data you have, the more you can focus attention and understand both the risks and opportunities to eliminate unnecessary spend and inefficient tasks.” Through a Pharmacy Operations Improvement initiative with the PINC AI™ Pharmacy Consulting team, this health system implemented more than $7.5 million in total savings – inspiring credibility and confidence that pharmacy can deliver notable financial and operational value to the organization.

Replacing many cumbersome, manual means of contract utilization and cost savings analysis with a streamlined, technology-enabled approach is a game changer for pharmacists and already-stretched teams.

Pharmacists today are utilizing meaningful data and a proven, established process for drug purchasing cost mitigation to make informed formulary choices that eliminate inconsistencies, support the bottom line and gain access to products that best serve patients.

Embracing Innovations for a Bright Future

Through enhanced clinical services, technological advancements, supporting supply chain and financial resiliency, and a relentless focus on safety, pharmacy leaders are shaping the future of healthcare.

By recognizing and harnessing the tremendous potential of pharmacists, we can forge a new era of healthcare providers – empowered to deliver the highest quality care and improved patient outcomes.

Happy National Pharmacy Week 2023. And thank you to our Premier Pharmacy members and all pharmacists across the nation for your tireless work and dedication to improving the health of communities you serve.

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