The pharmacy department is an integral part of the hospital, and is one of the most complicated functions in terms of safety, finances, and the vast amount of regulatory requirements that must be followed. We recently spoke to a number of our top pharmacy customers about the impact of the political, economic, and regulatory changes introduced in 2017, and the challenges that face them going into the new year.  As was no surprise, our straight-shooting respondents told us what was up – in no uncertain terms. Priorities and goals for this coming year are similar to what we’ve seen and heard in years past, the list topped by reducing medication errors, complying with regulatory requirements, and reducing costs. Although not listed in top priorities, we’ve also heard from many of our best customers there are goals to increase their clinical services and make more of a front-line impact on the safety and satisfaction of their patients.

hospital pharmacy priorities 2018

In reality, a major focus for 2018 is addressing the many challenges introduced over the last couple of years. On the majority of pharmacy professionals’ priority lists are the repercussions of the changes to USP <797> and the overhaul of USP <800>. The significant operational and infrastructure changes required to be in compliance with handling hazardous drugs is causing significant anxiety for our customers. The timeline for compliance has recently been pushed back until December 1, 2019, and that will greatly help in alleviating some of the major heartburn surrounding the requirements. But, pharmacy professionals are still stressed.

“[they] keep changing the requirements and seem to treat hospitals as though they are manufacturers.”

Many professionals cited uncertainty around what was actually required, one Pharmacy Director stating “[they] keep changing the requirements and seem to treat hospitals as though they are manufacturers.”  Achieving compliance with the new regulations will require collaboration across the entire hospital, including soliciting support from other departments, such as nursing, as well as many physical and structural changes, which always translates into significant time and money.

Speaking of money, budgets continue to weigh heavy on the minds of our friends in the pharmacy. Potential changes to the 340B program brought about many concerns of lost revenue and the continuous rise of drug costs resulting in a tighter and tighter bottom line. Since the pharmacy budget is such an important component of the hospital’s overall financial outcome, anything that impacts the pharmacy budget is an instant red flag for the administration team.

Operationally, the majority of concerns centered around being able to track and trace medications down to lot numbers— from the manufacturer to the patient—as required by the Drug Supply Chain Security Act. This could potentially be difficult for pharmacies with antiquated or insufficient record-keeping systems as it may impact their ability to produce the required documentation in the necessary timeline. Other operational challenges on the minds of pharmacy professionals continue to include preventing drug diversion, as well as tracking shelf life changes for unit dose liquids.

According to our customers, 2017 was a challenging year and the challenges will continue into 2018 and the immediate future. The pharmacy is such an integral piece of providing care to those who are sick or injured and it’s always interesting to hear that the providing care part isn’t a cited concern. It’s the regulatory and bureaucratic nightmares that go along with running a hospital pharmacy that keep directors and administrators up at night.

At PDC Healthcare, we love to hear about what’s going on in your facility – your challenges and struggles and your triumphs. Give us a call at 800.435.4242 or contact us online and let us know what you’re working on. We may be able to help!


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Heather Hudson is a Marketing Manager at PDC where she works with hospital clients, helping them improve patient safety and productivity by developing solutions that meet their most critical needs. She never would have imagined she would be an expert in identification solutions, materials, and adhesives! Prior to joining PDC in 2009, she managed marketing for an acclaimed gourmet bakery and ate a LOT of cookies. Heather graduated Magna Cum Laude from California State University Northridge with a degree in Marketing. She holds a patent for a pharmacy prescription privacy label that protects sensitive patient data for HIPAA compliance and has multiple identification patents pending. Heather is a new mom to a beautiful baby boy named Jack who keeps her busy when she’s not at work. One of Heather’s claims to fame at work is that she always wears the most creative costumes at Halloween; some of her past homemade costumes have included Captain Crunch, Hurricane El Nino, and Flo the Progressive Insurance lady. She still eats a LOT of cookies.


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