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March 01, 2022

Optimizing Pharmacy Talent and Technology at Owensboro Health

Jason Collins
PharmD, Director of Inpatient Pharmacy, Owensboro Health

Persistent labor shortages are making health system pharmacy executives rethink their operational and clinical options. At Owensboro Health in Kentucky, we take advantage of cutting-edge automation and software to improve clinical processes and optimize medication management procedures, led by a team of optimization experts and a dedicated on-site technician.

Many of us have been impacted by the Great Resignation. Healthcare professionals are leaving their professions due to exhaustion, frustration, and burnout caused by the pandemic, leaving those who remain to handle twice, if not three times, as much work.

Many pharmacy leaders have struggled to fill openings for pharmacists even before the pandemic. To help overcome this challenge in our health system, we have implemented a pharmacy technology strategy supported by services to improve operations and enhance patient safety.

The pharmacy services at Owensboro Regional Hospital, which includes medications utilized by the health system's multiple clinics throughout the 19-county region, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For many years, we used a 24-hour cart fill model aided by two carousels and the ROBOT-Rx central pharmacy robot. As the robot neared its end of use, we looked at several possibilities. We wanted a technology that would allow us to expand our operations while also ensuring our patients' safety and reducing staff stress. We decided to keep our cart fill dispensing method and implement Omnicell's Central Pharmacy Dispensing Service, including the XR2 Automated Central Pharmacy System.

The XR2 has been fantastic for our medication distribution approach. XR2 has allowed us to automate more doses and reduce manual picks with significantly more capacity. The XR2 has twice the storage of our old system, handles many additional form factors, such as syringes, vials, cards, and even sleeves of tablets. That's a real safety advantage because those doses are now barcode scanned rather than picked manually. The XR2 is completing up to 95 percent of cart fill resulting in fewer manual picks. The XR2 is also doing about 50 percent of our picks for XT automated dispensing cabinets, freeing up technicians to perform other duties. The automated processes have resulted in a significant improvement in workflow for dayshift technicians.

Having our XR2 service technician onsite has been a tremendous help. Our specialist arrived ready to go and fully trained, allowing us to get up and running swiftly. She works 40 hours per week reviewing records, performing tray analyses, and optimizing the XR2 and inventory. Not only that, but she also assisted with staff training. This has really reduced stress for the team. Other technicians no longer have to worry about attempting to figure out how the XR2 works on their own. They can feel confident in their work and that medications are delivered timely and secure to patients.

For pharmacists, there's much less medication checking. It's opened the door for our pharmacists to work with patients more. We're looking to repurpose pharmacy technician labor for higher-level tasks, such as medication reconciliation.

Omnicell's team of expert resources ensured a smooth ramp up, helping our staff understand processes, walking them through workflows, and providing our teams hands-on experience with the XR2. This built confidence in our staff. We continue to meet monthly with the Omnicell team to talk about how to continue optimizing the technology and workflows.

Hear more about Owensboro Health's optimization of pharmacy talent and technology on the latest episode of the Future of Pharmacy Podcast.

      The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). These views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time and may not be held in perpetuity.