Building a Better Health Service

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Delivering better value for money on hospital drug spend

Advancing the Role of the Pharmacy Technician and Delivering Better Value for Money on Hospital Drug Spend, Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown

A Senior Pharmacy Technician was employed on a specified purpose contract for a 12-month proof-of-concept period to demonstrate the savings that could be made from a targeted 'purchasing-for-quality' approach to drug procurement.

How it worked

The Senior Pharmacy Technician worked closely with the Chief Pharmacist to identify and prioritise elements of the drug budget appropriate for targeted work. They then defined the appropriate criteria for assessing drugs, for example licensing status, medication safety features, lead times, continuity of supply, vendor reputation, and price.

A scoring tool was then developed, assigning suitable weighting to each criterion. The scoring tool was then piloted for a number of test drugs and refined. To track workflow, drug spend and savings, a database was developed, which gave clear visibility on spending and saving for the year-to-date as well as projected spending/saving for whole year. Work commenced on assessing selected high-spend drugs and recording the savings achieved.

The team

The role of the Pharmacy Technician in Ireland has been relatively underdeveloped until now, particularly when compared with the United Kingdom. This means that the particular skills and expertise of this group of healthcare workers are being underutilised.

This project seeks to both harness and enhance these skills to deliver measurable and meaningful improvements in performance. This will also, we hope, pioneer a new role for Pharmacy Technicians in Connolly Hospital and in the Irish Hospital setting more generally.

Impact of this project

Patients demand and deserve medication of the highest quality. This project seeks to ensure that this demand is met while also delivering savings in drug spend. Such savings, in turn, may be reinvested in services which will enhance the patient experience.

This project seeks to accept the reality of finite healthcare budgets, while also finding ways to retain a quality focus. After nine months, the overall savings achieved were in excess of €427,000 with total projected savings for 2017 in excess of €500,000.