Does an ASC need a pharmacy consultant?

Does an ASC need a pharmacy consultant?

Does an ASC need a pharmacy consultant? The short answer is, YES! In this week’s post we will discuss why it is important for a facility to work with an expert pharmacy consultant.

The list is long for why you need the guidance of a pharmacy consultant as part of your business. For example, medication management, patient safety, regulatory compliance, survey readiness, benchmarking studies, and cost savings, to name a few. Read on to find out how having a specialized pharmacy consultant on your team can be invaluable.

For those of you who routinely read my posts, you know that I write them to address current trends in medication management and other healthcare news impacting patient safety and regulatory compliance. I also write many posts to answer frequently asked questions. Although I sometimes get asked about the benefits of working with a pharmacy consultant, I don’t often get asked if one is needed. That changed recently…I have received several calls from facilities who have been advised by accrediting agencies to hire a consultant pharmacist. In turn, the facilities want to know if it’s something they really need.

As you may recall from a previous post titled “Are you working with a highly qualified consultant pharmacist?”, both state and federal agencies noted the need for highly qualified and specialized pharmacy consultants has increased in recent years. This is not surprising, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the issue. Here’s an example: Do you know how far apart to dose the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, such as influenza? Are you sure? The CDC guidance has recently changed, and I wrote a post about it. So, what’s my point? Keeping up with all these changes is more than a full-time job and facilities need another expert pair of eyes to help keep patients safe and help reduce a facility’s regulatory liability.

This is just one example of the daily changes that happen in the clinical and regulatory landscape. Medication management is a large undertaking with a lot of moving parts, which requires strict oversight. We know how frequently the various clinical guidelines change. From a regulatory standpoint, there are even more cooks in the kitchen.  Regulatory oversight of medications includes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the individual state departments of health, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and The U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)…and this is all before we even mention the accrediting agencies. Do you have someone with the expertise and time to keep up? Probably not. Your staff members are great at what they do, but they’re extremely busy doing their job. When would they have time to keep up with all the changes?

Staffing has never been easy, but now that we’ve introduced labor shortages into the equation, even Clinical Directors and nurse managers are spending most of their time in the operating room and taking care of patients. Research is the last thing they have time for. Hiring an expert makes sense and is cost effective to help cover your obligations.  Not only do you reduce the workload on your staff, you stay on the leading edge with the most current information, and if you’re working with a good pharmacy consultant, they can also save you money. In fact, a good pharmacist will save you much more than their services cost. Just last month I helped a facility switch from a medication in multi-dose vials to single-use prefilled syringes for an annual savings of $8500. If I do nothing else for them, I already made a positive impact on their bottom line.

Here are some other reasons facilities should hire a qualified pharmacy consultant.

Can I hire any pharmacist to fill this role?

No! This is often the biggest mistake facilities make. Having someone who is not qualified is worse than having no one at all. Why? Because it costs you money and you get no value in return. Don’t be tempted to hire the cheapest person…you know what they say, you get what you pay for. Instead, focus on value. Ask yourself this question: Is their value worth their price? It may seem like a bargain, but as always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many of my competitors go to facilities to check for expired medications and the controlled substance log. When they’re done, they provide a one-page report that is essentially a check list. They provide absolutely no value. Pro tip: You don’t need a pharmacist to check for expired medications or controlled substance log. Save yourself the trouble and money by hiring a high school kid to look at outdates, if that’s all you want. An expert consultant pharmacist will guide you and provide expertise on the ever-changing world of clinical and regulatory compliance. They are proactive and they free your staff to focus on their own work.

What kind of pharmacy consultant do you need?

Your consultant pharmacist should specialize in your field.  Consultant pharmacists generally specialize in one of the following four categories: Regulatory, Quality, Technical, or Clinical. At OctariusRx our expertise spans all four, which benefits our diverse business partners. Remember that any pharmacist can call themselves a consultant…that doesn’t make them qualified. Ask about their specific expertise and credentials.

How can a pharmacy consultant save me money?

There are many ways a qualified pharmacy consultant saves a facility money. Often, the facility doesn’t even realize what an incredible insurance policy this is. Your pharmacist should oversee medication management and help enhance patient safety, among other general oversight. Remember, poor survey results are, at the very least, distracting, but often they are time consuming for your staff and costly. Issues with medication management go beyond survey deficiencies; they can result in high costs in patient care quality, potential litigation and a poor reputation. Having a pharmacist that helps you safely navigate medication management is a cost containment strategy.

What questions should you ask your pharmacy consultant?

Before deciding who to work with, do your homework. I have written several times on questions you should ask your pharmacy consultant. In my post titled “Are you working with a highly qualified consultant pharmacist?”, I recommend you ask the following questions:

  1. How long has the consultant been working in a specialized area?
  2. What is the consultant’s current level of knowledge and what professional degrees and continuing education credits have they earned in their specialized field of consulting?
  3. Which professional organizations is the consultant a current member of?
  4. What applicable licenses does the consultant have?
  5. Has the consultant published any articles in professional or clinical practice journals?
  6. Will the consultant provide a list of previous or current clients one can reference?
  7. Has the consultant ever given any professional presentations specific to the area of interest?

Whether you’re looking for your first pharmacy consultant or looking to make a change, I encourage you to determine who is the best consultant pharmacist using the following seven topics to start your due diligence.

  1. They have an authoritative website.
  2. They have great online reviews.
  3. They’re specialized.
  4. Their education.
  5. They’re on the leading edge.
  6. They provide extensive benchmarking services.
  7. Their value matches their price.

How much does a pharmacy consultant cost?

This is a tricky subject because there are many different price structures available. The important issue to understand is what services are included in the price you’re paying. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is if there is no value in the services received. It is important to ask questions and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. I’ve received calls from potential clients saying that they received a low initial price from another consultant pharmacist, but by the time they added up all the different charges, the bill was much higher than anticipated. Our pricing is completely transparent and there are no hidden charges…you know exactly what you’re getting and how much it will cost you ahead of time.

We recommend every facility work with a qualified consultant pharmacist. The facilities that already do recognize the value an expert consultant pharmacist offers, but others don’t realize what their missing. If you were looking for a new dentist or mechanic, you’d want to find the best one, right? We recommend you do the same with your consultant pharmacist. We don’t want you to just meet the requirements, we want you to exceed them. We’d love the opportunity to show you how we are the best at what we do. Give us a call if you have questions about this post or pharmacy consultants. We would love the opportunity to serve you and show you what you’ve been missing. Get started with a free consultation.

The Consultant Pharmacists at OctariusRx provide guidance on safe medication management, survey readiness and cost savings to ambulatory healthcare facilities/surgery centerssenior care facilities and pharmacies. We also help individual patients optimize their medications to improve their quality of life and save money. Contact us for assistance.

Any health, medical or drug information on the Web Site is for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to be used, and you should not use it, as a substitute for obtaining professional healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor, a pharmacist or other qualified healthcare provider for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment for any medical condition.