The number of hospitals operating outpatient pharmacies remained flat this year at 49%. Automation use in support of these operations is widespread, with 80% of all outpatient pharmacies utilizing a variety of outpatient-specific automation tools. While future projections indicate that a majority of outpatient pharmacies plan to expand their capabilities, it is notable that a growing number of facilities are content to maintain their current levels of service.
For more information, visit pppmag.com/automation and select Ambulatory Automation, then Outpatient Pharmacy Automation.
Facility size, and the attendant resources, are a strong indicator of the likelihood of implementing an outpatient pharmacy operation.
Both government-owned facilities and academic medical centers have demonstrated a steadfast dedication to providing outpatient pharmacy services to their patients. Community-based facilities have been slower to add outpatient pharmacies.
Over the next 3 years, the majority of facilities plan to expand their outpatient services. Yet it is notable that the 57% planning to expand their outpatient operations is down from 2 years ago, when 76% were planning to expand their outpatient services.
Automation is widely utilized to support outpatient pharmacy operations; particularly popular are e-prescribing, bar code verification, and point-of-sale programs, along with automated pill counters and robotic dispensing systems.
While the outpatient pharmacies at smaller facilities generally dispense up to 5,000 prescriptions per month, those facilities with more than 200 beds fill a much broader range of prescriptions.