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Marketing to Pharmacy Leaders in Healthcare

Understanding Their Role

The responsibilities of a hospital pharmacy are to dispense pharmaceuticals (medicinal drugs), medical diagnostics, or therapeutic chemicals, some of which may be prepared or compounded on-site as prescribed for a particular patient. Most hospital pharmacies are located within the hospital premises and may serve both inpatient and outpatient needs. In larger hospitals or medical centers, there may be more than one pharmacy with additional pharmacies located in the emergency department or each nursing unit. The main functions that occur within a hospital pharmacy are:

 

  • providing information on medications
  • pharmacy services
  • dispensing facility
  • medication preparation
  • stock and inventory management
  • storage
  • procurement and supply of medications

 

The the pharmacy is to achieve what is known as the “Five Rights of Medication.” These rights include making sure that medications reach – the right patient with the right drug, the right dose, and the right route.1

 

The staff of a hospital pharmacy include one or more full-time pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and possibly additional staff members. A professional pharmacist holds a PharmD degree from an accredited college, has completed a one – two-year residency program and passed all required state examinations. The pharmacist's job includes the supervision of the pharmacy technicians, compounding necessary solutions or drugs, overseeing and dispensing medication orders including IVs, chemotherapeutic, radioactive, and nutritional solutions. The job also includes counseling medical personnel on drug selection, side effects, and contraindications. A recent industry survey indicates that pharmacists are looking to expand their roles within hospitals as part of a multidisciplinary patient care team able to provide assistance when complex medication-related issues arise.2

 

Pharmacy technicians may have trained on the job or possess a two-year degree, have undergone an internship, and or be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Requirements for employment as a pharm tech vary by state. Pharm techs fill and dispense prepackaged prescriptions under the supervision of the pharmacist, manage software, and take care of stocking and answering phones.3

 

Another important component of the hospital pharmacy is the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. Made up of pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and administrators, the committee is the liaison between the pharmacy and the rest of the hospital staff and is ultimately responsible for the activities of the pharmacy. They also create a formulary of approved drugs that can be used within a hospital that includes contraindications, medical cautions or warnings, and dosages. The P&T Committee may be involved in staff education, quality improvement, and cost-benefit studies.4

 

There are standard protocols for hospital pharmacies for the distribution of medications to patients. In-patients receive the bulk of the pharmaceuticals ordered from the hospital pharmacy. The types of products sent to the nursing units for patient care include non-chargeable items that are kept within the unit such as bandages, antiseptics for wound care, stock items such as disposable external products and prescribed drugs. One of the most common methods for the distribution of patient medications is by unit dose in prepackaged or pharmacy packaged doses. The standard procedure is to supply the medications with a 24 hour supply of unit doses that are then stored within each nursing unit.

 

“Technology offers hospital pharmacists the ability to counsel more patients, have a greater visibility on hospital floors, and expand clinical roles, but only if we are willing to take a leap of faith and embrace change.” - Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the School of Pharmacy at MCPHS University5

1 Walker, Tracey. “5 Strategies to Manage Oral Oncology Drugs.” Managed Healthcare Executive 24, no. 6 (2014): 40. EBSCOhost(97756664).

2 “E-Prescribing Shown to Improve Outcomes, Save Billions.” Health Management Technology 33, no. 4 (2012): 22 – 23. EBSCOhost(75347262).

3 Cyr, Ken. “Fusion Confusion.” Healthcare Purchasing News 36, no. 7 (2012): 16 – 17. EBSCOhost( 77402968).

4 Ibid.5 Erickson, Amy K. “Technology: Will it help or hurt the future of pharmacy practice?” PharmacyToday. May 2015. Accessed 12/3/15, available at: www.pharmacist.com/technology-will-it-help-or-hurt..

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Copyright © 2016 Fusion Point Research, Inc.

Pharmacy departments dispense and oversee the use of pharmaceuticals in the hospital. They are staffed by highly educated professionals who understand the impact of medication on the human body. Since many of the medications utilized in hospitals are powerful and potentially dangerous if misused, the Pharmacy department manages strong controls on the storage and movement of drugs.