Drug shortages continue to pose challenges for provider pharmacies in the final quarter of the year. While the causes for drug shortages can vary from natural disasters to voluntary recalls, one thing remains consistent: provider organizations need to have the ability to react to the inevitable shortages. Hospitals and health systems that are unable to communicate and react to the changing availability of drugs may find it difficult to effectively provide quality of care to patients.
HBI’s Supply Chain Academy recently spoke with the administrative director of pharmacy services at Stanford Health Care, Deepak Sisodiya, to learn how their pharmacy handles shortages. Stanford Health Care’s pharmacy department operates using a low on-hand method. While this method allows the pharmacy to purchase only what is demanded, it can also be challenged when the market for a specific drug becomes unstable.
To ensure the pharmacy is staying abreast of potential shortages, replenishment conversations with the organization’s vice president of clinical operations are present in the pharmacy department’s daily huddles. Through this close relationship with the internal clinical community, physicians are monitoring their drug supplies and reporting on required supply versus available supply. Additionally, the information is included in a daily assessment—which gets elevated to the chief operating officer—of how the health system is poised to meet the needs of patients for the day.
Unfortunately, there is no concrete method for ensuring effective workarounds for a drug shortage, but Sisodiya stressed the importance of consistent communication. Hospitals and health systems struggle due to a lack of notice regarding drug shortages, forcing them to be reactionary. However, by communicating a shortage plan across its clinical lines, Stanford Health Care has increased awareness and seen improvements in the degree of comfort staff have in handling the cases.
By working together with clinical stakeholders and the pharmacy team, Stanford Health Care’s leadership effectively communicated where the organization stands in terms of its highest-level drug shortages. The organization hopes that suppliers will also do their part by providing better communication during drug shortages to aid those waiting on vital medications.
“It is critical for hospitals, health systems, pharmacy directors, and anybody along these lines to have the realization that drug shortages are a natural state of affairs,” Sisodiya said. “Have a plan to delineate what is routine business versus what is out of the ordinary, and, for the latter cases, have a plan of action. The ability of an organization to be able to plan and react most effectively requires organizational alignment and the flexibility or ability to be nimble in quickly bringing forth necessary focus.”
For further information please fill in the form below