High-Performance Pharmacy: Coming Soon to Your Health System?

Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA


April 24, 2007

In This Article

A New Toolbox for Improving Pharmacy Performance

Health-system pharmacists looking for a way to build their careers while improving patient care have free access to fresh ideas on a new Web site called High Performance Pharmacy.[1] It identifies proven "best practices" for improving pharmacy operations and offers tips and tools for adopting those practices.

The Web site is based on a major study unveiled last December at the Midyear Clinical Meeting of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). The study was sponsored by McKesson Health Systems, a San Francisco-based provider of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and technologies that serves hospitals and other healthcare systems.

Lead authors Steve S. Rough, MS, and Lee C. Vermeulen, MS, FCCP, spearheaded the study 3 years ago at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Pharmacy residents were employed to perform an exhaustive review of the literature in order to identify "best practices" in hospital pharmacy.

The authors then reviewed and categorized the data to produce "Eight Dimensions of High Performance," the backbone of the study. For each "dimension," practical steps are described to help pharmacies initiate change. Initiatives are rated in terms of feasibility, projected financial return, and anticipated quality and safety return. Thus, pharmacists looking for a project that fits their current budget and staffing levels can identify an appropriate action using those standards, or "value assessments."

"ASHP produces its 'best practices' document every year, which is a comprehensive reference but not user-friendly," said Chris Borr, Senior Director of Marketing at McKesson. The new Web site was developed to provide tools that could be used to help elevate the practice of pharmacy, he said.

The High Performance Pharmacy project is the outgrowth of a "think tank" called the Health Systems Pharmacy Executive Alliance, which McKesson established back in 1998. That group, which was the driving force behind the High Performance study, includes several ASHP past presidents and officers from other pharmacy organizations, along with representatives from pharmacy settings that range from large academic centers to community-based hospitals. The volunteer Alliance members meet semi-annually to reach consensus on which programs, services, and practices characterize high performance in pharmacy. Most of them work for institutions that have contracts with McKesson.

The study that provided the foundation for the new Web site was the first of its kind, said Borr, so all of the cited literature is from academic or professional journals and is theoretical in nature. However, the resulting 70 financial and clinical performance indicators may provide a framework for collecting data and studying pharmacy performance over time.


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