Pharmacy OneSource Blog

Leveraging Technology to Elevate the Role of Pharmacy

Posted on 07/30/15

Pharmacy technicians studying

The value-based landscape continues to evolve, and healthcare organizations are standing at a strategic crossroads regarding how to best leverage and allocate pharmacy resources. Going forward, a critical element of any strategy that promotes care optimization must acknowledge the critical role that pharmacy plays in outcomes improvement.

Simply put, it will take a “top of license” approach to pharmacy resources—an approach that frees up pharmacists from low-value tasks, allowing these professionals to become integral players in more collaborative, interdisciplinary care delivery. As forward-looking organizations embrace and adopt this model, many are finding that the best solution comes in the form of implementing the right technological infrastructure while working in tandem with better processes.

A strong first step to understanding where pharmacists can provide the greatest value within an organization is to conduct a gap analysis around key performance and quality measures and then look for areas where pharmacists can have significant impact. Since medications are the number one way pharmacists can treat and prevent disease, there are usually many obvious opportunities. Improving management of chronic disease, reducing readmissions and avoidable medication adverse events, and improving patient engagement are outcomes around which pharmacists have repeatedly demonstrated value.  

Addressing the issues identified in the gap analysis will likely require changes in workflow, standardization of care processes and improving delivery of evidence-based care. In the modern healthcare environment, new care initiatives or new workflows should be supported by flexible IT structures that provide the necessary tools for driving improvements in patient outcomes and driving clinical intelligence reporting.  Gap analyses targeting organizational improvement often indicate that  robust health information technology that optimizes the use of clinical decision support (CDS) systems—including clinical surveillance technology—are  highly valuable  for improving  quality measure performance, preventing or mitigating the risk of adverse events and reducing readmissions.

While EMRs have been a critical first step in health IT evolution, the current reach of CDS in these applications is limited in that it is not able to consider all of the relevant contextual patient data that exists. The combination of rules-based, real-time, advanced surveillance technology and evidence-based CDS solutions allow healthcare organizations to better leverage the full potential of their EMR investments through much richer aggregation of patient data that renders alerts more relevant to a patient’s true condition and also provide guidance on appropriate, evidence-based care options.

An advanced surveillance solution like Sentri7 aggregates disparate patient data in real-time creating a more accurate patient picture from admission/discharge/transfer information, labs, pharmacy data, radiology and surgery. The application’s smart logic is used to develop alerts that enable real-time and ongoing monitoring of patient care to impact performance, equipping pharmacists with better information, streamlined workflows and more proactive response to care.

Consider the impact of Sentri7 on antimicrobial stewardship alone. Data supports that hospitals leveraging the solution reduce antimicrobial usage by 15-25 percent, which for one hospital equated to  $750,000 of annual savings on antimicrobial agents. In addition, one large New Jersey-based multihospital system increased the number of patients reviewed for antimicrobial appropriateness and potential de-escalation from 35 percent to 92 percent resulting in improvements in clinical care and cost savings.

It’s a new day for the pharmacy within the evolving performance and risk-based reimbursement landscape. Strategically positioning pharmacy resources for the future will require a combination of thoughtful analysis, workflow governance and a solid foundation of technology to ensure pharmacy resources are optimized for the highest level of care delivery.

Topics: Clinical Surveillance

About the Author

Steven M. Riddle, PharmD, BCPS, FASHP serves as Director of Clinical Development for Pharmacy OneSource/Wolters Kluwer Health; a company that provides cloud-based technology solutions and evidence-based content to support optimal quality in point-of-care delivery of health services. Steve is responsible for overall strategic direction around clinical content and determination of business opportunities for Pharmacy OneSource and Clinical Solutions. Steve also serves as the Director for the Fellowship Program and as liaison for the company to the healthcare profession. Dr. Riddle has 30 years’ experience in healthcare, including inpatient and ambulatory clinical services, pharmacy administration and quality improvement. Steve received his Bachelor of Pharmacy from Washington State University and his Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Washington. He is currently a Clinical Affiliate Professor at the UW School of Pharmacy and serves on the Washington State University College of Pharmacy Dean’s Advisory Council. Steve’s specific professional interests are quality improvement, health care system reform, population management and wellness-centered healthcare. Dr. Riddle recently completed his 3-year service as the Chair for the Section of Ambulatory Care Practitioners for the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP). He current serves ASHP on the Center on Pharmacy Practice Advancement Advisory Committee, the Ambulatory Care PPMI Committee and the PAC and Advocacy Advisory Committee, the. He is currently serves on the Quality Metrics Expert Panel for the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA). Steve served for 3 years as inaugural Chair for the Washington State Pharmacy Association’s Health Systems Academy. He is a member of ASHP, the American College of Clinical Pharmacists (ACCP) and the Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA) and supports these association’s goals of integrating and expanding pharmacy practice to improve patient care. Steve was named a Fellow of ASHP in 2009 and has received distinguished leadership awards from ASHP and WPSA.