Working closely with clinical pharmacists, making evidence-based medication substitutions, and employing smarter dosing can curb costs without reducing quality.
Hospitals have opportunities to reduce the use of expensive or hard-to-get drugs and save money without compromising patient care, according to a hospital pharmacist who spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston Saturday.
The session—which took place at the annual meeting showcasing a range of scientific topics—brought together the issues of drug shortages and high prices. Some of the solutions used at hospitals such as the 465-bed University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science System (UI Health) can address both.
Andrew Donnelly, director of pharmacy services at UI, said that by working closely with clinical pharmacists and setting up a team devoted to address the problems, the system has saved $2.5 million.
"You have to be as smart as you can in terms of using the really expensive medications," he said.
Hospitals need to know that there may be feasible alternatives to medications that suddenly become much more expensive, he said. And if the alternative approaches are evidence-based, the effort won't impact on quality.
If there is no alternative, there should be clear guidelines for approved uses of expensive drugs.
Tinker Ready is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.