Questions for Evaluating Pharmacy Automation Purchasing Technologies

Post by QuicksortRx on March 7, 2024
Questions for Evaluating Pharmacy Automation Purchasing Technologies

Pharmacy automation technologies which help hospitals streamline drug purchasing and spend analysis have seen a significant increase in adoption over the past several years. There are a number of factors motivating hospital pharmacy buyers to invest in these procurement solutions, including the following: 

Pharmacy cost savings 

Hospitals are turning to pharmacy automation purchasing systems to help them identify new cost savings opportunities beyond what they are currently achieving. In some instances, hospital pharmacy buyers are not using any procurement technology besides spreadsheets. In other instances, buyers have access to one or more systems but understand that there are more efficient solutions on the market that can help them target new cost-cutting opportunities and grow overall savings.

Free Checklist: Drug Cost Management for Hospital Pharmacy

Pharmacy resource constraints 

With the growing complexities hospital pharmacy buyers face daily, they often lack the bandwidth to manage procurement and purchase data to the extent that they would like and need to. While buyers tend to have access to some combination of tools and reports (e.g., wholesaler, GPO) to help them make data-driven purchasing decisions, the data may carry with it some bias, such as recommending medications based solely on a GPO contracted price and not representing 340B/WAC purchase history. In addition, there are only so many people and hours available to complete manual work required to keep shelves adequately stocked with medications needed for patient care, let alone find savings opportunities. Pharmacy purchasing solutions enable buyers to spend more of their time on high-impact work that can help their hospitals better navigate procurement challenges (e.g., drug shortages, contract changes) while bringing in meaningful cost savings. 

Pharmacy data 

To say data analytics in hospital pharmacy is complex would be an understatement. There are enormous amounts of pharmacy data, and hospital pharmacy buyers are seeking ways to better utilize their data to make smarter purchasing decisions. Buyers want improved access to their data and want the data to be current. They want better visibility into their real-time data so they can make proactive rather than reactive decisions. And given their resource restraints, they want to more easily and quickly determine where they should be focusing their efforts to achieve meaningful savings. Pharmacy purchasing technologies can deliver on all these needs.

Centralized distribution model 

Hospitals are increasingly moving toward a centralized distribution service model (or integrated service model), which places responsibility on dedicated hospital pharmacy buyers to ensure optimal procurement and distribution of drugs. This model has demonstrated that when the appropriate amount of responsibility and accountability are levied upon a proficient pharmacy buyer, meaningful results are attained and then maintained. Pharmacy automation purchasing software is essential to achieving the goals of the centralized distribution service model. 

Get Answers to These Pharmacy Automation Procurement Technology Questions 

As you research and evaluate the hospital pharmacy automation purchasing technologies available on the market today, answering the questions identified below will help you make a smart system investment decision that will put your organization in the best position to achieve short- and long-term purchasing success and savings. 

1. What are the key features and functionality?

You will want to learn about the pharmacy automation system's defining features and functionality and determine how they will help you go beyond and improve upon what you are currently capable of accomplishing with existing procurement tools. This includes solving new problems, solving problems faster, and unearthing improvement opportunities.  

Examples of features and functionality to look for include automated alerts indicating savings opportunities, extensive reporting and analysis, overspend notifications, detailed purchase history, and instant identification of price and contract changes. 

2. How does the pharmacy automation purchasing technology organize your data?

The technology you use should sort your procurement data intelligently, prioritizing information associated with high-value actions — in other words, the savings opportunities and purchasing changes you should pursue first. This is essential to helping hospital pharmacy buyers "own their spend" — to know exactly how markets are changing and what impact these changes are having and will have on their purchasing. Considering the complexity of data analytics in hospital pharmacy, buyers need a solution that continuously evaluates all their data and emerging opportunities without requiring significant manual labor. 

3. How will the pharmacy automation software help operationalize insights?

Building on the previous question and answer, pharmacy automation purchasing technology provides enhanced access to real-time data and greater insights, but it should go one step further and help you determine what procurement decisions you should and should not make. Just because a system indicates you can save a certain amount of money does not mean those savings are worth pursuing if they introduce challenges or problems, such as compliance penalties or loss of rebate dollars. The technology you choose should enable you to be more thoughtful about the opportunities you consider, pursue, and ultimately execute. 

4. What pharmacy cost savings opportunities exist for your hospital?

Pharmacy analytics technology vendors should be willing to provide you with a free savings analysis that assesses your data and identifies what you can expect to save with their technology — i.e., the savings gap that exists between your hospital's current spend and what you should be spending to maximize procurement savings. The vendor should also be willing to explain how some identified savings opportunities would be executed, how the technology will help you build upon those savings once the solution is implemented, and even guarantee an amount of savings achievable with the technology. 

5. Can the pharmacy automation purchasing technology be customized?

There are two ways to look at pharmacy automation technology customization. There's the customization of the technology on implementation that's required to pull a hospital's specific data and contracts. This is fairly standard across solutions. But the ability to customize a technology should not start and end with implementation. Rather, the procurement technology vendor should be willing and able to execute customization requests and opportunities, like the creation of new reports and changing data formatting to help with analysis and execution of a project. Such customization is one of the qualities that differentiates a pharmacy automation technology vendor from a pharmacy automation technology partner 

6. What support is included for hospital pharmacy buyers?

The answer to this question will further help you differentiate vendors from partners. Purchasing automation technology should empower a hospital pharmacy buyer to achieve significant cost savings and improvements in procurement efficiency. These outcomes can be better assured and magnified when buyers receive ongoing support from the procurement experts who developed the pharmacy automation technology. 

For example, at QuicksortRx, pharmacist experts meet weekly with hospital clients. These meetings help their hospital pharmacy teams streamline operations, ensure execution, capitalize on strategic goals, and stay current on industry best practices.  

Support from QuicksortRx also includes peer-to-peer connections when collaboration is beneficial, such as for the sharing and discussion of programs and best practices or navigating drug shortages.  

Own Your Drug Spend With the QuicksortRx Pharmacy Automation Purchasing System 

Hospitals looking to make timelier, data-driven drug purchasing decisions are implementing QuicksortRx. Founded by pharmacists and technologists from the Medical University of South Carolina, QuicksortRx provides actionable guidance that delivers substantial savings. With ongoing support from the QuicksortRx team, hospitals maximize the benefits of powerful pharmacy analytics. To learn more about QuicksortRx, schedule your brief demo. 

New call-to-action

Post by QuicksortRx on March 7, 2024
QuicksortRx provides timely, transparent, and actionable guidance to help health systems make better pharmacy procurement decisions.