When implementing the latest technology, hospitals are commonly faced with a number of tough questions, but are they asking the right ones?
Chris Parrish, senior vice president of lab, pharmacy and supply chain at Aultman Hospital in eastern Ohio, says administrators should focus on three areas when considering new technologies: How will this improve patient outcomes? Will this improve staff efficiency? How will the technology contribute to cost-savings?
“I think if you look at technology and how it can help you reach your goals, those are the three lenses that we have to [use] when evaluating any new technology,” he says.
That’s what Parrish did when he came to Aultman 10 years ago to work in the pharmacy department. He noticed that they had some great technology in place, but it wasn’t always being leveraged appropriately. He began looking at how they could free up pharmacy staff to work with clinicians. On-site staff were spending too much time validating orders and not enough on the floor next to the physicians and nurses “to help make the right decisions for patients,” he says.
Aultman implemented new medication management software that streamlines the pharmacy supply chain and has freed up its pharmacy staff. The platform affords total visibility of medication inventory and the ability to push medications to where they need to go throughout the system. It also lets pharmacists look up outdated products and return them to vendors instead of manually searching, which takes valuable time.
“I wanted to make sure my staff … on the clinical side have what they need, when they need it to make the decisions on these patients."
The staff have embraced the change, and the system has seen more than $800,000 in savings as a result, with readmission rates remaining at a consistent level.
Historically, Parrish says he’s seen pharmacy departments and hospitals make the mistake of jumping into the next big thing before fully evaluating their existing platforms.
“We buy a technology and we never fully leverage that technology,” he says. “We just move on to that next big thing. I challenge the director of our pharmacy to continually look for ways to optimize the technology we have before we invest in a new technology.”