McKesson's Pharmacy Optimization team identifies 5 key pharmacy trends headed into 2017

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McKesson's Pharmacy Optimization team identifies 5 key pharmacy trends headed into 2017

By Michael Johnsen - 12/05/2016

LAS VEGAS — The implications the new Trump administration will have on healthcare isn't the only trend that has pharmacy executives abuzz. In fact, the McKesson Pharmacy Optimization team, a group of trusted advisors who work to help elevate the value of health system pharmacies, has identified the top five trends that will impact hospital and health system pharmacies in 2017.

McKesson's advisory team addressed these trends with health system pharmacy leaders at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting 2016, which runs from Dec. 4–8, 2016.

“The role of the clinical pharmacist is rapidly expanding to stay ahead of the changing dynamics brought upon by healthcare reform," commented Mark Eastham, Sr., SVP and general manager Mckesson Pharmacy Optimization. "The expanding scope of pharmacists’ service and increasing clinical collaboration illustrate key trends and opportunities facing health system pharmacies in the coming year.”

That being said, here are the five trends McKesson's pharmacy optimization team identified:

1. Continued Growth in Specialty Market

Growth in specialty pharmaceuticals spend continues to outpace growth in the overall pharmaceutical market and is the top spend category for health system pharmacies. The expansion of limited networks and exclusive distribution channels for many specialty pharmaceuticals challenge health systems’ continuity of care initiatives.

However, opportunities still exist for health system pharmacy leaders who understand and can demonstrate the unique clinical and operational competencies and expertise required to build, buy or partner with specialty pharmacies. Additionally, with the growth of biosimilars, pharmacists are poised to play a critical role in evaluating the balance between risks and patient benefit.

2. Leveraging Pharmacy Analytics to Make Strategic Business Decisions

Integrating comprehensive pharmacy analytics to track and monitor drug spend and use, patient care, and quality is a top priority for health systems. Organizations can use this information to make better financial, clinical and operational decisions and drive improved outcomes. For example, Drug Spend Intelligence is a web-based portal that shows users data on price trends and drug use, which helps identify causes of spending increases and waste and maps ways to contain formulary costs.

3. Health System Pharmacy Seen as a Revenue and Margin Generator

Managing costs will always be important; however, health systems’ leaders are increasingly looking to pharmacy to generate more revenue and help improve margins. This will continue to drive growth of specialty and increased use of mail order to ship medications directly to patients’ homes. As healthcare consumerism grows, health systems will need to find new ways to capture patients as network participation will not be enough. For example, health systems can extend their continuum of care by providing discharge medications through their ambulatory/retail pharmacies. More and more health systems are looking for partnership opportunities with retail pharmacies to share patient data to ensure all healthcare practitioners have access to current information.

4. Centralizing Pharmacy Operations and Improving Clinical Services

Sometimes referred to as clinical telepharmacy, the centralization of pharmacy operations is designed to help large health systems utilize a centralized hub to manage costs, improve order entry and verification, and standardize policies and procedures. Using software tools and services like those from PipelineRx, large health systems can free up time for pharmacists and other staff to use more effectively on clinical patient care initiatives and generate revenue by servicing other hospitals, clinics or retail pharmacies. This need for efficiency is also bolstering the use of centralized service centers to streamline pharmaceutical ordering, packaging and dispensing. These centralized functions can result in better efficiency and improved safety and cash flow. The importance of inventory management and supply chain visibility is evidenced by McKesson’s acquisition of Supplylogix, which is a comprehensive inventory management solution designed to help improve supply chain efficiency and improve patient satisfaction.

5. Future Directions for Reform and the Affordable Care Act

Healthcare reform and the ACA were key issues throughout the election process, and it is clear that the new administration will look to make changes to the ACA in the coming years. What is not yet clear is how quickly these changes will be implemented and what the impact will be on health systems. However, likely changes include the elimination of the individual mandate, a reduction in taxes associated with the law, the elimination of cost-sharing subsidies and reversing Medicaid expansion. Removing the mandate will increase the uninsured numbers as charity care cases go back up. Programs such as Pharmaceutical Assistance from manufacturers and services such as MedSource, offered through McKesson, will continue to bring value, ultimately helping health systems to continue to provide care and minimize write-offs.