One of the most frequently received questions relating to a Consolidated Services Center Pharmacy (CSC) is simply to know what the benefit is. Why go through all the labor in formulating, presenting, and executing a CSC plan? We totally understand that, on the surface, there can easily be some ROI doubts, but there are a few overarching ways that a CSC can add value: Cost Savings, Improved Patient Safety, and Process Improvement. This article will focus on the qualitative benefits that can come with implementing a Pharmacy CSC at your health system.
Due to many facilities sharing the cost of a CSC, the health system can more readily afford better facilities, better equipment, additional training, and be able to perform testing that could not easily or practically be conducted at most locations. For example, we were able to conduct stability studies and sterility testing of the products compounded by our CSC Pharmacy. This allowed us to be confident in the quality of our products that we were providing to our patients.
We also found it substantially easier to implement consistent processes, procedures, and to increase the expectations of staff. The CSC team is a small group of highly trained individuals residing in a single location as opposed to being spread across the health system. Our CSC team had daily huddles to share information quickly and easily to proactively identify and institute process improvements. Due to increased expectations and training, the team members are more often than not, Specialists, and further raise the bar by holding each other accountable. Amongst our team, there was a unified commitment to exceed expectations and avert anticipated problems.
A CSC Pharmacy can ensure a consistent supply of high-quality medications at the lowest possible cost, minimizing the impact of drug shortages and maximizing best practice. For example, our CSC had a three (3) month supply of propofol. This allowed us to avoid purchasing off contract and to continue business as usual, performing ambulatory surgeries and other procedures requiring sedation, when the propofol shortage was in full swing.
A CSC can also maintain an inventory of antidotes, disaster medications, and other high cost medications needed for patient care so that the health system is better prepared while reducing the inventory burden of each facility. We synchronized the antidote inventory levels of the CSC and each facility by considering things such as distance from the CSC, accessibility of couriers, and amount required to have on hand for the initial dose(s). These types of efforts also resulted in a reduction of expired medications and freed up valuable space at the inpatient pharmacies.
A CSC Pharmacy reduces the transactional work at the facilities, allowing clinical staff to focus on clinical service, patients, and site-specific activities, as they should! However, we immediately identified an unanticipated benefit of the CSC. Undeniably, there were far less interruptions in this controlled environment when compared to an inpatient pharmacy. At times, an inpatient pharmacy can be chaotic with new orders, missing dose requests, clinical questions, and other urgent situations (e.g., stroke calls, codes, rapidly declining condition of a patient, etc.). In contrast, the CSC is relatively calm from an operations perspective. Team members dedicated to compounding and packaging were able to focus on the task at hand, without competing priorities, which should result in a reduction in medication errors and an improvement in Patient Safety.
Albeit reducing medication errors and improving Patient Safety is a primary objective of pharmacy services and a significant value add, a CSCP also increases efficiency, decreases service interruption, and results in an overall improvement in the drug supply. These improvements bring about unrecognized Cost Savings for the health system. When a Consolidated Services Center is being considered, it is our job to bring this to the attention of our leaders and to shed light on ALL the benefits of a Pharmacy CSC!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. Readers of this document are encouraged to contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. The views expressed in this document are those of the author and not those of the Trulla LLC. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this document are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content in this document is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.