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McKesson RxO Team Identifies Five Health System Pharmacy Trends to Watch in 2018 

Feb 2018

The McKesson RxO™ team, a group of trusted advisors working to help hospital and health system pharmacy leaders track, manage and grow their pharmacy operations, has identified five trends it believes will impact hospital and health system pharmacies in 2018. 

“As value-based care models continue to gain greater acceptance, hospital and health system pharmacies are increasingly charged with generating revenue and improving savings that contribute to the system’s bottom line,” said Mark Eastham, B.S., R.Ph., senior vice president and general manager, McKesson RxO. “Renewed interest in 340B, the continued growth of specialty, and the ability to leverage data and analytics to drive outcomes and operational efficiencies are some of the key trends and opportunities facing health system pharmacies in the coming year.”

2018 Health System Pharmacy Trends:

1. Renewed Interest in 340B to Address Growing Oversight and Reimbursement Changes

The ongoing policy debate over the 340B Drug Pricing Program has raised health system leadership interest in the 340B program to fund hospitals’ mission and support community benefit. While participation in 340B adds complexity to pharmacy operations, the cost savings and opportunities are significant. As a result, pharmacy and supply chain leaders have renewed their focus on 340B to address rising drug costs and to foster specialty and retail partnerships for expanded patient care access and support. With increasing Health Resources & Services Administration audits, health systems must be able to demonstrate accountability and best practice compliance. To help navigate the complexities of 340B and patient assistance programs, health systems can draw on industry expertise to develop actionable recommendations to optimize program participation and utilize a robust 340B management software package for audit preparations from McKesson.

2. Access to Data and Analytics to Drive Outcomes and Operational Efficiency

Whether health systems grow organically or through acquisitions, it is not uncommon to have a dozen or more disparate databases housing critical clinical and operational data. Organizations can use this information to make better financial, clinical and operational decisions and drive improved outcomes. However, a health system’s or hospital pharmacy’s analytics will only be as effective as its source data, which is why it’s important that their IT platforms have electronic data exchange (EDI) functionality. If the data is not searchable or easily accessible, it cannot have a meaningful impact on patient care or help physicians make better decisions. McKesson RxO’s Utilization AnalyticsTM integrates comprehensive pharmacy analytics to track and monitor drug spend and utilization. The tool enables users to optimize and reduce drug costs, explain drug usage and cost variances, and improve staff efficiency by reducing time spent gathering data.

3. Continued Growth in Specialty Market

The specialty pharmaceuticals market continues to grow dramatically and health systems are seeing the largest increase in specialty procurement. While 81 percent of U.S. health plans are covering at least one biosimilar product, according to research published by Avalere Health, limited networks and exclusive distribution channels for many specialty pharmaceuticals create barriers to access and reimbursement. Despite these barriers, specialty pharmaceuticals can generate significant revenue and internal capabilities that support health systems’ quality and continuity of care initiatives. Whether health systems want to build, buy or partner, McKesson Specialty Health’s Biologics specialty pharmacy and intraFUSION specialty infusion management offers resources to help healthy systems develop the required clinical and operational competencies and expertise.

4. Health System Pharmacies Generating Revenue

As a growing percentage of health systems’ revenue comes from outside the hospital, pharmacies are an increasingly important source of revenue. In addition to the obvious expansion into specialty pharmaceuticals, capturing discharged prescriptions, working with outpatient infusion clinics, optimizing 340B opportunities, maximizing patient assistance and recovery programs, and expanding retail and ambulatory pharmacy services are just a few ways pharmacies can generate revenue. The hospital pharmacy can be an overlooked piece of the revenue cycle, and given the complexities in reimbursement, many systems are leaving money on the table. Recovery solutions help hospitals ensure that the pharmacy revenue cycle is running efficiently.

5. Consolidation Driving Centralized Service Centers

The industry continues to see tremendous consolidation in all areas, including providers, payors, and vendors. Ongoing mergers and consolidation drive the need for centralization of pharmacy operations designed to help large health systems utilize a centralized hub to manage costs, improve order entry and verification, and standardize policies and procedures. Health system pharmacies have the opportunity to centralize services such as order entry, compounding, packaging, and dispensing that allows clinicians to focus on patient care and drive costs down through improved inventory management and supply chain visibility. Creating one central formulary for the system is a complex issue, but a must to ensure consistency of patient care and optimal patient outcomes. Standardizing drugs throughout a medical system reduces variation, which limits medication pick errors, increases patient safety and improves patient care.

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