How QuicksortRx Helps Health Systems Better Navigate Drug Shortages
Q&A With QuicksortRx Co-Founder and CEO Jonathan Yantis
Drug shortages are one of the biggest challenges facing health systems. In a 2023 survey of more than 1,000 members of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), over 99% of respondents reported they were experiencing drug shortages. Most categorized the current state of drug shortages as either critically impactful (32%) — defined as rationing, delaying, or canceling treatments or procedures — or moderately impactful (63%).
With every indication that drug shortages will remain an ever-present challenge, health systems are looking for solutions that can help them secure the medications they need to deliver patient care while keeping expenses for scarce drugs under as much control as possible. One solution helping health systems nationwide is QuicksortRx, a technology platform backed by expert pharmacists which provides real-time purchasing oversight, analytics, and savings tools to help with pharmacy procurement while minimizing medication costs.
In this Q&A, Jonathan Yantis, QuicksortRx Co-Founder and CEO, explains how QuicksortRx and the team supporting the technology are empowering clients to improve how they navigate and respond to shortages.
Q: How is the QuicksortRx platform better enabling health systems to meet the drug shortage challenge head on?
Jonathan Yantis: We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to solving the challenges of drug shortages for our clients. In the past, a health system's pharmacy supply chain team would need to perform intense manual analyses of everything they ordered, everything they received every day, and everything that wasn't coming in. QuicksortRx provides real-time visibility into exactly what a health system is ordering and what they are getting or not getting from a shortage standpoint. A user can instantly assess their data, see they're not getting the drugs they need, and immediately start working on finding alternatives. The platform also tells them about the alternatives on the market that could satisfy their need. The moment a purchaser realizes a drug they ordered is unavailable or isn't available in the quantity needed, they can immediately respond and try to secure the drug or an alternative from another supplier.
This ability to adjust to shortages as they're happening is probably one of the top uses of the QuicksortRx platform. Health systems use the real-time data and our "shortage intelligence" service to determine if they are potentially not getting a drug they need, which will interrupt the supply chain and potentially threaten their patients. This challenge is persistent and essentially a daily issue for many health systems. QuicksortRx users are often in our product every day to look at what they ordered that didn't come in and work on what they are going to do about this problem.
Q: What is the QuicksortRx shortage intelligence service?
JY: It's a feature of the platform that pulls together all our customer ordering information in an abstract way. It doesn't reveal any individual client's information. Shortage intelligence allows our health systems to see what's going on in the market in real time. With this information, clients can better answer questions like: Who is the biggest player this week or month? Who is actually shipping product to customers? An individual health system can get a lot of signals about drug shortages, but it can be difficult to determine what is happening in the market that could lead to an empty shelf of a critical medication. It's not unusual for a pharmacy team to be unaware that their local distribution centers are running out of a medication they will need.
When you're having so many ongoing and rapidly changing troubles with so many critical drugs, keeping current is difficult at best. Our shortage intelligence is meant to help fill in that knowledge gap. It pools all the information from our health systems and enables users to better know what steps they can and should take to help head off a shortage before it has a significant impact on their organization. It provides a real-time, nationwide, cross-wholesaler, cross-distribution center view of the world for purchasers. You can isolate whether you have a local issue at your distribution center, a nationwide issue at just your wholesaler, or you are looking at a nationwide shortage from the supplier where their drugs are not flowing to any wholesaler or distribution center in the country.
It's very helpful to know whether the issue is at your local distribution center and they just need to fuel up the trucks and get some drugs over to you or you're looking at a bigger problem and might need to go scour the country because you're about to have a critical cancer drug shortage. The knowledge takes pressure off pharmacy buyers because it keeps them out of the dark and able to avoid situations where they learn about a major problem too late to effectively respond.
Drug shortage problems tend to start small and then suddenly you can be out of a critical, life-saving medication. That potential outcome can create a ton of anxiety for buyers and health system leadership. QuicksortRx shortage intelligence helps clue you in and give you better information about drug shortages so you're never sitting in the dark in your corner of the world wondering what's going on in the market.
Q: How does QuicksortRx help with controlling what health systems are spending on drugs in short supply?
JY: It used to take a long time to evaluate different products and determine which ones were right for your health system because they fit with your other purchase patterns and aligned with everything else drug purchases are required or expected to do. One advantage of using our platform during a shortage is if there is a comparable product available on the market, you can immediately price and compare it to your current choice and know exactly how much wasteful spending — we call this "shortage spend" — is in the system. In other words, how much will I be spending above what I want to because I can't get what I need, and is that worth it to me? A purchaser may have five alternatives available. Using QuicksortRx, they can instantly know the best price that fits their health system's purchasing strategy. A buyer can go from spending all morning — and possibly longer — running manual reports and conducting a complex analysis to knowing an alternative is available, it's priced right, it fits the current strategy, and it doesn't hurt compliance. They can pull the trigger and move on. The ability to make that decision quickly delivers significant financial and efficiency benefits.
Q: What other technology features within QuicksortRx help with drug shortages?
JY: We provide a real-time, week-by-week heat map of supplier deliveries. This further helps paint that actual picture of the market. Knowing the biggest player over the last year isn't as helpful as knowing who has been playing in the market over the last few weeks. That's what buyers need to know to better help them address the shortages they are currently facing.
Q: How does the QuicksortRx team enhance the value of the platform?
JY: We have such a strong relationship with our clients and speak with them on a regular basis. Any critical shortage is generally a big topic of conversation. What comes out of those conversations for our people is crowdsourcing of information — confirming or denying rumors about what's going on with the pharmacy supply chain. Every one of our customers has multiple communication lines to their wholesaler representatives, distributors, and group purchasing organizations, so our clients receive ongoing updates that help paint a clearer picture of the market. They share this information with us, which helps us suss out and then share with our customers what's truly going on and help them differentiate rumor from fact. Rumors fly in the shortage world, and they can wreck an entire market. A rumor that something's going to be bad usually causes bad things to happen.
Curating accurate information and disseminating it to our clients is something we do that goes beyond the platform. The platform has raw analytics, which help significantly with navigating shortages. Our client engagement and education gets more into issues like factories that are under inspection from the FDA and might be going offline for a few months or a factory that's coming back online and about to ramp up production of a product. Getting information like this from our clients and being able to share it with our customers helps them know how to better prepare and respond to a shortage.
People in our industry like to help each other out. Yes, health systems are in competition for shortage medications, but when a client has secured the drugs they need, they are happy to help other QuicksortRx customers. They provide our people with tips on matters like where supply is available and who pharmacy buyers should speak to if they need to secure medications.
This sort of insider knowledge that goes well beyond software comes from the ongoing conversations we have with our customers. Clients are happy to answer questions like: What are you doing about this shortage? Are you secure? How did you get to that position? Are you willing to share more details that we could use to help other health systems? More often than not, once a health system is secure, pharmacy buyers want to help their peers because we are all working toward the same mission: helping patients get the care they need.
This QuicksortRx client support structure is unique. During our conversations, clients talk not only to a pharmacist on our team but a pharmacist who has worked on their side of the table. They have been inside the supply chain of a major health system and are now supporting multiple systems. When clients speak with us, they are talking to people much more in the know than they would if they were only engaging with a software support professional. We can speak their language as deep as they want to speak it.
This insight and our commitment to being a source of timely information is a huge differentiator for us as a company. It's difficult for customers to grasp how big of a benefit this is until they are QuicksortRx clients.
To learn about how QuicksortRx can help your health system improve how it navigates and responds to drug shortages, schedule your free savings analysis.