Promoting Endurance as Well as Ingenuity

January 2014 - Vol. 11 No. 1 - Page #3

Pharmacy directors are under near constant pressure to improve the efficiency of all medication management functions, and one of the most common responses is to search for automated solutions to refine workflow, mitigate waste, and improve timeliness and accuracy. Because this often involves new equipment and interfaces, much of the effort put into the adoption of new technology is front loaded with the goal of making the transition as smooth as possible. As any pharmacy director with an MBA or business acumen will tell you, proper preparation and planning is essential for the initial success of any initiative. However, these solutions are not meant to be ephemeral; like all initiatives, they require perpetual maintenance and monitoring if their true value is to be realized.

Reciprocal concepts such as return-on-investment (ROI) analyses can help forecast a financial return for a given investment, but what metrics can be used to ensure a new system is living up to its potential? Often the ongoing value of an initial financial outlay is not necessarily quantitative. Has a new or inventive solution provided a better working environment for your staff? Has communication between disparate groups improved? Any process improvement scenario must depend on follow-through in order to maintain the actual improvement; otherwise, entropy takes its natural toll. Therefore, when putting together a proposal or request for additional staff, a new information system, or new piece of automation, or simply engaging in a Lean initiative to limit waste, some portion of that proposal must address ongoing maintenance. Factors to consider include:  

  • Who is responsible for the overall and ongoing success of the project?
  • Who is the designated point of contact for troubleshooting issues?
  • What systems are in place to alert staff of a deviation or breakdown?
  • What data are captured and how is that information used to improve the system?

These are just a few of the concepts that should be addressed before, during, and after a new project is implemented. Naturally, the outlines of such maintenance will depend on the specific needs and limitations of your facility, but this underscores the fact that acquiring a solution is one thing, while applying that solution over time is quite another. While we all hope to be blessed with the ingenuity to find the perfect answer to our professional questions, fostering the endurance to see those answers through is perhaps the more virtuous of the two. It’s our job at Pharmacy Purchasing & Products to help you with both.

All the best,

R. Mitchell Halvorsen

P.S. The staff of PP&P would like to congratulate and honor our friend and long-time editorial advisor, Deb Saine, MS, RPh, FASHP, FSMSO, as a 2013 winner of ISMP’s Cheers Award. The ISMP Cheers Awards honor individuals, organization, and companies that have set a superlative standard of excellence for others to follow in the prevention of medication errors and adverse drug events. Here’s to you, Deb!


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