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Feb 10, 2015 12:00:00 AM · by Dave Wolfe

Managing Multiple Pharmacy Project Initiatives: As a Director of Pharmacy, How Do I Get This Done?

As a Director of Pharmacy, how many times do projects get put on the back burner because it's deemed that there are no resources available? As the pharmacy business owner, you're tasked with managing this issue.

With an initiative such as "meaningful use" and the drive to implement CPOE, resources (staffing and funding stream) for certain projects are abundant. The entire organization is supportive of the initiative, and IT “needs” the support in order to meet the meaningful use attestation. It’s appropriate and acceptable to hire outside consultants as subject-matter experts, build and implementation support, and a team of super-users to support the go-live. But what happens post-go-live? Where does the outside support go?

Your pharmacy projects do not end after CPOE is live. You still have multiple competing projects to manage in order to continue to support your practice and improve patient care. Such initiatives may include:

  • CPOE Post-Go-Live Optimization:
    • Ongoing maintenance of CPOE system (order set updates, new drug additions)
    • Cleanup of CPOE order sets and predefined orders
    • Optimization of CPOE system — cleaning up med/IV order search, clinical checking level management, prescribing levels for physicians/mid-levels based on drug types
  • System Maintenance:
    • Upgrade testing of the clinical system, pharmacy system, and ancillary systems, such as unit-based cabinets, robots, and carousels.
    • Implementation of new modules, such as emergency department systems and medication reconciliation
  • Financial Management Initiatives:
    •  Charge on chart — charging based on when the drug is administered versus when it’s dispensed
    • 340B compliance and management of NDCs in the pharmacy drug master and financial charge master
  • Revenue Enhancement/Patient Care Initiatives:
    • Implementation of a Specialty Pharmacy Solution
    • Implementation of Medication Therapy Management (MTM)
    • Development of a medical home with pharmacist intervention and patient follow-up post-discharge

All of these projects are important. All of them require pharmacist involvement to be successful, but you may not have enough pharmacy resources to support them. All of these require some IT support, but they may not be a priority to IT. You may have a small consulting budget line to support such projects. But you still have to move forward, regardless of these obstacles.

How can you overcome these perceived obstacles?

Larger health systems have a pharmacy informatics/IT team to support such initiatives. Pharmacy administration works closely with this group to prioritize the projects and timelines. But this can consume a tremendous amount of administrative energy and time. Other organizations do not have the “luxury” of having a pharmacy informatics team, let alone having one pharmacist dedicated to this role. In this case, what do you do?

As a Director of Pharmacy, you run your organization like it was your own business. If this were your small business, you would outsource aspects not only when it made financial sense, but also if it those aspects were outside of your expertise. Typically, some areas of consideration might include hiring an accountant to do your taxes, hiring an attorney to manage your contracts, and hiring a software development firm to build your software solution. The same holds true as you manage your pharmacy project initiatives: The use of outside resources to complete certain project tasks makes fiscal sense, and it allows your pharmacy resources to focus on improving patient care and satisfaction. When was the last time you did an analysis to determine if this would make sense for your organization? 

For more insight into how to effectively manage the pharmacy projects listed above, please download this white paper by clicking the button below. 

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General, Dave Wolfe

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