Financial recovery post COVID-19: Q&A with Steve Rough
Hospitals and health systems are faced with serious financial challenges post-COVID. How will this impact pharmacy leaders and their departments?
As we begin to see some glimmer of hope as a society post-COVID, health systems will face significant financial distress with a quick turn-around unlikely. Pharmacy leaders will be challenged to preserve core services, and it is likely that senior leaders will engaging outside consultants (many with minimal pharmacy expertise and understanding) to help lead financial recovery efforts. Pharmacy occupies a large expense in most organizations, therefore pharmacy leaders will likely be asked to critically evaluate how services are provided, and pharmacy departments will be likely targets for labor and non-labor savings mandates.
What are suggested revenue enhancement strategies?
Visante can help clients quickly identify successful revenue enhancement strategies that can be swiftly achieved with little to no new resources or through resource reallocation. Examples of quick-win opportunities can include:
- medical and pharmacy benefit revenue cycle optimization to enhance collections and minimize write-offs,
- retail and specialty pharmacy optimization that leads to profitable business growth and important/convenient solutions that meet patient needs,
- site of care strategies pertaining to infusion and home infusion therapy, and
- direct to employer and health plan pharmacy services contracting.
What are suggested non-labor cost savings strategies?
There are many examples of non-labor savings pharmacy initiatives that can be quickly and effectively implemented to save health systems millions of dollars annually. Examples can include:
- innovative 340B optimization strategies including expanded clinic eligibility,
- pharmacy supply chain optimization strategies,
- drug (including biosimilar) utilization initiatives,
- insourcing of compounded sterile products,
- employee drug benefit redesign, and
- centralization/consolidated services implementation.
What workforce (labor savings) strategies do you suggest?
In general, broadscale reductions in pharmacy workforce are short sighted and can negatively impact the quality of patient care as well as health system financial performance. However, post-COVID, the following workforce management strategies are advisable:
- pharmacy leaders should proactively identify opportunities for improved labor efficiency without compromising quality, and every department should develop a plan to gain efficiency of between 5 and 20% in a worst-case scenario,
- leveraging technology, centralization, remote services and skill mix enhancements all provide opportunities to improve operational efficiency and flexibility, while reducing total labor expense (examples may include work-from-home and remote dispensing to help match resources with workload).
How can Visante help?
Visante strives to serve as a business partner to health system pharmacy, not as a consultant. We understand pharmacy, and our values are highly aligned with advancing health system pharmacy practice. We bring deep expertise in pharmacy financial recovery strategy, with most of our team members having previously served as contemporary Chief Pharmacy Officers in major health systems and IDNs. We’ve successfully run large-scale pharmacy organizations and understand what it takes to maintain high-value pharmacy services and to deliver on financial improvement initiatives.
We are uniquely positioned and stand ready to help health system pharmacy leaders quickly identify and successfully implement revenue growth and non-labor cost savings initiatives in their organizations, including all of the opportunities mentioned in this blog. We do this with the goal of preventing otherwise imminent pharmacy workforce reduction mandates which could negatively impact patient care and safety.
Mr. Rough has over 20 years of hospital pharmacy and healthcare leadership experience, in which he successfully built and led all aspects of strategic, operational, clinical, programmatic and financial performance for a large health system pharmacy enterprise. He has delivered more than 145 presentations to national pharmacy audiences and has served in countless volunteer leadership positions within professional pharmacy organizations.