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Strong Pharmacy-Finance Partnerships Key to Navigating 340B Program Challenges 

Charles Hirner, RPh
Senior Director, Omnicell 340B Operations

For nearly 30 years, the 340B Drug Pricing Program has provided vital financial support to nonprofit hospitals and is now considered an important element of hospital finance in many communities. But a variety of industry and regulatory pressures are making the program increasingly complex. What was once easily managed within the hospital pharmacy department now frequently requires a cross-functional approach involving the hospital finance department, hospital operations and healthcare providers.

On the latest episode of The Future of Pharmacy Podcast, I’m joined by Eric Iorfido, PharmD, 340B Program Manager at Penn Highlands DuBois, for a robust discussion on major challenges currently facing 340B covered entities and how pharmacy and finance are partnering to navigate for success.

340B program management was originally fairly easy to manage. In the hospital setting, hospital pharmacies separated out inpatient meds from outpatient prescriptions – and in some cases, used separate physical inventories for each. The covered entity could also work with a single outside contract pharmacy, allowing them to benefit from the program even when patients filled their outpatient prescriptions at a pharmacy outside the hospital. But as the program grew more complex, many covered entities turned to third-party administrators and software solutions to manage their 340B program through a virtual inventory model.

With COVID-19, 340B has become even harder to manage. The pandemic has caused a two percent shift from retail to mail order pharmacy, moving prescriptions out of normal contract pharmacy networks into mail order pharmacies. Telemedicine has also blossomed as a result of COVID-19. While the ability to visit your doctor remotely is a great technological achievement, it’s still relatively new from a data integration perspective and misalignment of data can result in missing out on eligible 340B prescriptions.

On top of COVID-19, mounting political pressures and litigation by pharma manufacturers is limiting the scope of contract pharmacy, impacting the ability to order products and limiting patient access to drugs.

Eric Iorfido has stated, “Manufacturer restrictions have put a huge burden on us. These restrictions are forcing covered entities like us to find creative, alternative ways to help our patients.”

Nevertheless, amidst the chaos, health systems like Penn Highlands DuBois have found ways to maintain thriving 340B programs. Listen to “Dynamics of 340B Program Spotlight the Value of Strong Pharmacy-Finance Partnerships,” to learn more about how Penn Highlands DuBois is successfully navigating the health system landscape by working closely with their finance department.

Tune in now to hear the discussion.

DISCLAIMER

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.