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The Future of Remote Pharmacy Models at Cardinal Health


Mike Brown, vice president of managed services at Cardinal Health, discusses Cardinal Health's goals to to leverage technology, while reducing costs to the health care system.

The emphasis at Cardinal Health is on improving efficiency through a blended remote pharmacy model and exploring opportunities to expand remote capabilities, allowing highly trained clinicians to focus on top-of-license work, says Mike Brown, vice president of managed services at Cardinal Health.


Looking to the future, how does Cardinal Health envision the evolution of remote pharmacy models, and what innovations or improvements are on the horizon in this aspect of clinical care?

It is transitioning. It used to be an after-hours service. However, we've moved to 24/7 offering. If I look at the facilities that we manage; that Cardinal manages, we have a blended model. Now, we have pharmacists on site, but we're also using remote pharmacy services, which has given us a big advantage. It doesn't really matter which size of hospital you have; they all have unique needs. But if you're in a smaller hospital, by having a remote pharmacy service, if you have someone call out, you don't have to get an agency. If you have someone on [paid time off], you don't need to bring someone in. If you have a storm or something and they just can't get there, you can use our services. So, we're seeing a lot of opportunity with that; it's just become ingrained in best practices.

When you get to the larger facilities, they're obviously redeploying their staff to do more of the top-of-the-licensed roles and letting us do all the order entry. So, we're just seeing it become standard practices, as you have a blended model nowadays, that really improves your efficiencies.

We're also looking at ways to expand our remote capabilities. We're looking at how we can offer certain services that are traditionally done on site, like medication or reconciliation programs. Can we do those remotely? Can we make them more efficient, so people aren't tracking stuff down and just doing busy work? We're looking at expanding our services. Matter of fact, we have some pilots that are already ongoing, doing remote for retail. So, if you have an outpatient pharmacy or retail pharmacy, how does that help you and how does that use efficiency? I think we're going to start expanding in that area as we go in the future.

Another area is a lot of hospitals are looking at specialty. When there's a lot of requirements around paperwork that you had to do for specialty, could we do that for them remotely, so their pharmacists aren't caught up doing work instead of what pharmacists should be doing? It's around our remote business. Even with our clinical business, we know we have a lot of information about utilization of drugs, who's prescribing, and how they're being prescribed. But how are we tying those back into our ordering platforms and our inventory systems, so we know which drugs we should be ordering? It'd be more seasonal, so we can better predict what we're going to need and have in our inventories. It will just make us more efficient. Obviously, that will drive costs out of the system as well. So, there's a lot of work around anything we can do from a technology standpoint that frees up our highly trained clinicians to do top-of-the-license work.

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