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Challenges with Pharmacy Automation, Drug Shortages, and Recalls

by Nathalie Celcis

We at Kit Check are proud to celebrate the release of our Hospital Pharmacy Operations Report for the third year in a row. In case you missed it, this report is our summary of key findings and takeaways from a survey of hospital pharmacy leaders from over 1000 hospitals. Conducting this survey for three years has allowed us to obtain valuable insight into the year-to-year trends in pharmacy operations and observe how changes of the past are impacting pharmacies today.

Biggest Challenges Facing Pharmacies

Unexpected Consequences of Pharmacy Automation

In this year’s survey, we noticed a substantial increase in respondents struggling with shortage and recall management. Surprisingly, the reason for this turned out to have less to do with an overall increase in shortages and recalls and more to do with other changes in pharmacy operations and management. Here is what we learned:

The root of the issue is a result of the proliferation of technology and automation systems across hospitals. For example, over the past three surveys we have seen a significant increase in pharmacies installing automated dispensing cabinets and rolling out electronic health records (EHR/EMR) across hospitals. In 2015, we asked hospitals which technologies they already had in place and which they hope to implement in 2016. Over 77% already had automated dispensing cabinets and 18% were planning upgrades for 2016.

Most Successful Technology Implementations

Hidden Costs When Dealing with Shortages and Recalls

An open-ended survey question on how drug shortages and recalls have impacted day-to-day operations unveiled some interesting ramifications of the implementation of these new technologies. While the growing popularity and implementation of automated dispensing cabinets and EHR/EMR has made some aspects of pharmacy management easier, many survey participants reported that these systems have complicated the workflows for recall and shortage management.

During a recall or shortage, a significant amount of time and resources must be dedicated to finding appropriate shortage alternatives and providing the necessary information and education to health care personnel. Now, additional time must also be spent inputting this information into the various electronic touch points across pharmacy workflows. Survey respondents reported issues related to adding the NDCs of clinical equivalences into EHR/EMR, automated dispensing cabinets, and carousels.

Average Time Spent on A Recall

Kit Check Does Things Differently

Luckily, here at Kit Check we spend a lot of our time making sure our software blends into the background by providing choice and flexibility so that it just works for your team.  Our formulary is powered by Medi-Span so that you don’t have yet another list of drugs to manage, you can seamlessly locate shortage or recalled items, be alerted to recalls for drugs in your inventory, and allow for alternate fill options for your kits so that when there are bumps in the road your team can keep working without needing to reconfigure the system.

Want more insights from the 2016 Hospital Pharmacy Operations Report? Click here to read the full report.

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