The Value of the Chief Pharmacy Officer

Sandra Gittlen, June 29, 2016

The emerging role of chief pharmacy officer is aiding care coordination, with positive side effects that improve drug cost efficiencies, prevent readmissions, and in some cases, lighten the load from nurses' discharge work.

This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

RWJBarnabas Health, a New Jersey–based integrated healthcare delivery network that serves more than 2 million patients annually, sent a clear message in July 2015 when it named its first chief pharmacy officer, Robert T. Adamson, PharmD, FASHP: Pharmacy professionals will be at the forefront of caring for patients.

Robert T. Adamson
Robert T. Adamson

"Pharmacy has been considered a supportive care division and involved along the line, but having pharmacy at the table from the beginning is fruitful," Adamson says. "Without a CPO, it's very difficult to marry the strategic plan of the health system with the direction of pharmacy."

Adamson, who had been RWJBarnabas Health's vice president of clinical pharmacy services, now oversees all pharmacy services across the health system, including RWJBarnabas Health's six retail pharmacies and in-hospital services for its 11 acute care hospitals and three acute care children's hospitals.

The goals of the CPO, he says, are to standardize the pharmaceutical segment of clinical pathways, such as order sets; find cost efficiencies in drug purchasing and usage; and use pharmaceutical insight to reduce length of stay and prevent readmissions.

Prescribing value
RWJBarnabas Health is not alone in promoting the visibility of pharmacy. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists wrote in 2015 that "complex hospitals and health systems benefit from having a pharmacy executive responsible for the strategic planning, design, operation, and improvement of their organization's medication management system."

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