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March 15, 2022

Why Pharmacy and IT Need a Strategic Alliance

Michael Korthuis
Vice President of Engineering, Omnicell

The changing nature of healthcare and the shift toward value-based care has led to a growing focus on better cost management while improving care. Pharmacy is one of the costliest areas in a health system, and an opportunity where digital transformation can make a significant difference in financial, operational, and, most importantly, clinical outcomes.

An effective medication management technology strategy relies on alignment with IT. As a team, they can build the intelligent infrastructure necessary to support the fully Autonomous Pharmacy – an industry vision for zero error medication management.

Intelligence is foundational to establishing an Autonomous Pharmacy. Health systems generate enormous amounts of data every second, but it's meaningless if not understood and utilized. Connected data is crucial. You will not have visibility into medication inventory without connected data, and it will be challenging to optimize operations without it.

We've seen one health system using 56 different programs to manage the medication administration process. Having disparate processes like this is not only time-consuming, but also puts patient safety at risk.

And as new technology is introduced, it creates more disconnectedness. According to an ASHP poll of hospital pharmacy personnel, pharmacists spend 26 percent of their time on clinical activities. They're devoting nearly twice as much time to drug distribution as they are to clinical activities.

Keeping the lights on from an IT viewpoint consumes 85 percent of an IT budget each year. There is little time and money left over for innovation as a result. Everyone must reconsider how they think about technology: is it just a cost center or an opportunity to achieve better results?

So, how can we accomplish tech investment and innovation in health systems? Technology can assist pharmacies in improving their overall performance in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Automation of workflows to minimize reliance on human performance and to reduce repetitive tasks
  • Extensive use of data intelligence to provide a full view of pharmacy operations
  • A cloud platform can enable deep integrations into workflows and drive advanced analytics and insights

Healthcare organizations increasingly employ cloud solutions to maintain a competitive edge, accelerate innovation, and transform interactions with patients, employees, and partners. Solutions like Omnicell One mean more real-time visibility, allowing more objective and efficient decision-making by organizational leaders, and opening the door to pharmacy innovation and transformation. By 2024, more than 45 percent of IT spending will shift from traditional solutions to the cloud.

To make the intelligent infrastructure and Autonomous Pharmacy a reality, you must engage your IT partner early and often. It's essential to be clear about your business needs, and have a long-term plan with IT to support the entire journey to the Autonomous Pharmacy. IT wants to be a part of the solution, but you must include them in all strategic planning.

COVID-19 has exposed the need for visibility and insights to optimize business results in real-time in healthcare. With the pandemic, many healthcare leaders have realized the advantages of the benefits of automation. The global pharmaceutical robotics market is growing fast than ever, with a projected compounded annual growth over the next five years of more than 13 percent.

With a strategic partnership between pharmacy and IT leaders, we must learn from other industries that have already automated their time-consuming processes, starting with mass data aggregation, and emulate their models to up-level the business of pharmacy. In the end, it's about leveraging technology to solve today's challenges but also to lay the groundwork for the future.

Interested in learning more about how you can create a strategic alliance between pharmacy and IT? Visit Omnicell at booth #5767 during HIMSS22, March 14-18 in Orlando.

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      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.