“Automation removes a lot of the manual work that’s been happening in every department to get at that information. Even more important is automating that data at the point in your workflow where it makes the most sense – the point where that information is particularly valuable, so you can make better decisions.”

To get a basic analysis of how fast a health system’s sites are using a specific drug, a manual approach might require a team member to spend a half-day or more downloading data and using an Excel spreadsheet. In contrast, Orsborn says the OrbitalRX platform requires very little manual entry.

“The vast majority, 90-95+ percent of it, comes from our automated gathering of that data from the catalogs and hospital and inventory systems,” he says. “You type in the code for that drug, and it’s all there in front of you instantly.”

Mobile data solution brings faster decision-making

Managing drug shortages requires plenty of team discussion and decision-making. Many of those conversations take place in hospital conference rooms, hallways, and pharmacy areas, by people who are continually on the move.

A technology solution that gives them quick access to the information they need on their smartphones enables hospital and pharmacy leaders to make good and timely decisions, with accurate, up-to-date information always at arm’s reach.

“Our ability to allow pharmacy leaders to quickly pull up their phone and see if a drug is already on our shortage list, learn the relevant information about it, see what alternatives are available, and have these critical discussions wherever they are is a tremendous time-saver,” says Peaty. “It allows them to be much more efficient in their decision-making and response.”

The OrbitalRX platform uses mobility to place information in the hands of the appropriate user, when and where they are using it, and make collaboration easier. Orsborn says:

“Instead of a spreadsheet that only one person can be in at a time – even though you might have 10 people who need that information at any given moment – you now have up-to-date, mobile data, which can move to anybody who needs it. All members of the shortage management team can be logged in at once, allowing them to meet and make decisions virtually.”

Customization provides flexibility for hospital workflows

Each health system’s workflow has similarities with other hospitals, as well as aspects that are unique to their site.

A drug shortage management system that can offer standard best practices as well as customizations that respect differences in hospital workflows provides a new level of flexibility for shortage management teams.

Some sites might focus more on one pharmacy area as a bellwether for how they’re doing in managing shortages, preferring a fast view and summary of just their central pharmacy inventory numbers. But other site teams may want to see the global picture of all their health system pharmacies from the beginning. Peaty says:

“The trick for us has been to be flexible enough so sites don’t feel like they have to depart from the way they work best, while also allowing enough structure across the site so we can provide a consistent service and solution for all of our users.”

The OrbitalRX solution takes into account the fact that shortage management teams are not all designed the same, and roles and positions can vary from one hospital to the next.

“The ability to ensure our system takes multiple users into account and understands the differences from site to site is important,” Peaty adds. “We can’t build something that can be used only by a pharmacist, if technicians are playing a huge part in these shortage management efforts at other sites.”

Customization recognizes that managing medication shortages may be a team effort at one health system site, while another site may be a one-person show.

“That one person is going to document processes very differently than a site with a ton of people involved,” says Orsborn. “That changes how we configure the system in terms of how clients document tasks and information on a day-to-day basis, according to their needs.”

Historical data and insights add value for decision-making

Drug shortages tend to repeat themselves. Or they can drag on, lasting for months or even a year or more. Either way, hospitals benefit from having easily accessible, historical data on how they’ve dealt with a drug shortage.

From the supplier strategies used, to the alternative medications prescribed, to how shortage management teams communicated with key stakeholders – all of this recorded data helps pharmacy leaders make faster decisions, avoid missteps, and better manage medication shortages.

In “How Your Hospital Pharmacy Can Manage Drug Shortages,” Christopher Van Norman, director of operations for McKesson, emphasizes the importance of data, analytics, and communication strategies:

“The entire supply chain industry is going through a data revolution right now, and the drug supply chain is no different. Technology, data and analytics will be central to everything that you do. But technology, data and analytics won’t mean much if you don’t know what to do with them. You still need to collaborate and communicate. If you do that, you’ll produce better outcomes for your patients.”

Interested in learning more? The OrbitalRX drug management solution helps reduce complexity, proactively manage data and workflows, and better communicate with hospital leaders and other departments for effective drug shortage management.

To schedule a demo of the OrbitalRX solution, send us a message.