8 Common Misconceptions of Partnering with Outside Firms for Pharmacy Services

Pharmacist using landline phone in store to service patient.

When it comes to using a service provider to manage your hospital pharmacy, there are many positive outcomes and advantages related to operational efficiencies, financial stability and patient care. Unfortunately, there are also some long held misconceptions.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common misconceptions and get a better understanding of the benefits to having experts run your pharmacy.

  1. The current pharmacy staff will all be fired. This is a very common misconception, but it’s simply not true. If you partner with a pharmacy management company like CompleteRx, long-term retention of your existing pharmacy staff is essential to ensuring a smooth transition and continuity of management and services. Retention rates with CompleteRx average 95% 6-months post-transition and 92% 1-year post-transition.

With the right partner, you’ll get:

  • Experienced leadership that aligns itself with your hospital’s culture;
  • Training, education and team development programs for your on-site team;
  • Leading experts to assist your pharmacy team with regulatory, clinical, technology, operational and financial efficiencies.
  1. You can’t reduce expenses by partnering with vendors; it is always more expensive because the vendor has to make a profit.Pharmacy is often the second largest cost center in a hospital and with intense margin pressure, health systems have to reduce drug costs and manage future drug cost growth. With the right pharmacy management partner, you have experts with a proven track record in driving cost savings while improving clinical outcomes which goes directly to your hospital’s bottom line. The key to a successful partnership is guaranteed savings and financial risk.  Immediate savings should be in the 4-6% range and there must be shared risk on future drug cost increases.

In addition, you get the following benefits:

  • Automation optimization and management (Medication carousels, ADM, robotics, CPOE, BMV, Smart pumps, Meaningful use)
  • Bedside discharge management
  • Antimicrobial stewardship management
  • Medication use outcomes management
  • Planning and implementation of regulatory changes (USP-800, ICD 10, USP 797)
  • Accountability thru service and performance guarantees
  1. Service, quality and patient care will take a back seat to cutting costs. Service, quality and a patient-centric focus leads to a more efficient hospital operation and improved patient experience which drives increased revenue and profitability. Unsustainable cost cuts can lead to higher rates of attrition which increases recruiting and training costs, along with low morale and employee engagement. When your pharmacy is engaged and actively part of the patient care team, they look for ways to improve outcomes and contribute to the long-term success of your hospital.

At CompleteRx, we work with multi-disciplinary teams to ensure that service and quality contribute to an overall positive patient experience. In one client hospital, we pioneered an HCAHPS initiative to help improve HCAHPS scores relating to pain management and communication about medications. In a matter of months, pain management scores improved 5.24%, and communication about medications scores improved 8.7%.

  1. The vendor partner will restrict our formulary. While restricting formularies may be an easy upfront cost cutter, it never works. A trusted pharmacy partner will take a different approach and make sure the pharmacy team and physicians work together to deliver optimal patient outcomes through evidence-based medicine and protocol-based care.
  2. The vendor partner will reduce hours of operation. Again, because cutting costs is a big concern in the pharmacy, reducing hours may seem like another quick hit for the budget. However, reducing hours will only have a negative effect on patient care and physician/nurse satisfaction, so this is likely not an option for an acute care hospital that has to serve patients 24/7.
  3. Partnering with vendors won’t work at our facility because our patients are different. All hospitals are different and all patients have different needs. A good pharmacy partner has extended resources to tailor to the needs and major areas of concern of each hospital, no matter how “different” it may be. In particular, smaller vendors are often easier to work with as they are more agile and can adapt specific solutions for each client. Here is one client’s take on the value that CompleteRx brings: “I have never worked in a hospital that had a more involved pharmacy, that is consistently looking at ways to save money, has excellent clinical people, is viewed highly by our physician staff, is easy to work with and is actively involved in improving patient care.”
  4. We will lose our GPO and wholesaler discounts because we will have to use the partnering company’s vendors. All CompleteRx hospital clients have kept their same GPO and wholesaler discounts. Health systems receive the full benefit of their GPO contracts and we are entrusted with maximizing the benefits of that contract on behalf of the healthcare system. Additionally, a pharmacy services provider will likely have greater reach and additional discounts that you can take advantage of as a client.
  5. The vendor partner will require our pharmacy staff to sign non-compete clauses making it difficult for us to cancel our agreement.Some vendors may see this as a way to “hook” a client and make it difficult to terminate the contract. At CompleteRx, this tactic directly violates our Team Covenant.  In addition, non-competes make organizations less attractive to potential new employees.  The sole focus of any management provider should be to deliver great value, service excellence and guaranteed savings.

By working with an experienced pharmacy management company and trusting this department to the experts, hospitals can continue to focus on delivering optimal patient care and containing costs, amidst the ever-changing healthcare market and projected double digit drug cost increases. If you’d like to learn more about CompleteRx services and how we can be the right partner for you, contact us today.

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