Top 6 challenges faced when managing your own onsite pharmacy
Managing a 340B on-site or specialty pharmacy has its challenges, but when operated efficiently, it can serve as a tremendous source of savings for Community Health Centers (CHCs). One of the main goals of CHCs is to provide care to the most vulnerable and at-risk patients in their communities, and the 340B drug discount program exponentially increases their ability to meet this goal. To learn more about the challenges of owning and managing these critical CHC programs/services, we recently commissioned healthcare consultancy, Sage Growth Partners, to conduct an independent survey of CHC leaders. Slightly more than half of the 75 respondents of this survey operate an on-site pharmacy today.
The top challenges respondents face are shown below.
Digesting the data
Nearly 40% of survey respondents report that workforce management and staffing are their biggest challenges, and that these issues were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Staffing shortages are a significant issue given that retaining highly qualified and experienced personnel is essential to running a safe and efficient pharmacy operation. ASHP conducted two studies in November 2021 to determine the cause of the record-breaking turnover. Of the more than 5,000 pharmacy technicians who completed the second survey, 75% said higher compensation would help them retain staff. Beyond compensation issues, recruiting and retaining employees entails a mountain of work that includes creating career ladders, career coaching, continuing education, scheduling, etc. Our next blog will focus on how to build and retain pharmacy talent.
Challenges 2, 4, and 5 directly impact pharmacies’ relationships with their current or future vendors. The growth of third-party payor contracting has led to many pharmacies seeking outside vendor support to help them manage this challenge. However, respondents say that a vendor’s ability to integrate with their pharmacy’s suite of technology as well as their reputation and compliance management capabilities are important factors in vendor selection.. Vendors need to provide solutions that can be customized to fit each pharmacy’s needs rather than having the pharmacy adjust to the vendor’s solutions.
Challenge 6 relates to the current situation with manufacturer restrictions impacting contract pharmacies’ ability to purchase 340B discounted drugs. This situation is unlikely to resolve in the near future. However, CHCs could offset the problems these restrictions create for patients if they were to operate more on-site pharmacies with the help of an experienced partner.
Addressing 340B pharmacy needs with outside expertise
CHCs want partners that can provide customized and comprehensive services, deliver value, and ensure full compliance. They value tailored solutions, transparent fee structures, and the ability to manage fewer vendors. Nearly two-thirds report that working with a single vendor that can support multiple needs, such as contract pharmacy administration, referral capture, and on-site pharmacy management, has moderate to significant value. The 340B program is continuously evolving, and as its complexity grows, health centers are likely to need outside expertise.