Although last year we stated that the pharmaceutical supply chain was stressed and overshadowed by the pandemic, in 2021 the global supply chain, including pharmaceuticals, has definitely been in the limelight. And while drug shortages did not earn a separate spot on our top 10 list, shortages have continued to be problematic.
As we look to 2022, what do we expect to see?
- Health systems will continue to invest in Consolidated Service Centers (CSCs): We have seen increasing interest amongst pharmacy and health system executives to invest in CSCs. These centers enable pharmacy departments to relocate many core services that are provided redundantly across multi-hospital systems to one centralized area to improve efficiency and service. Furthermore, the centers allow for expanded space and logistical support to better leverage the pharmacy supply chain to find opportunities to reduce costs and mitigate shortages.
- Home infusion therapy will continue to grow as a site of care: This was a trend we’ve observed since 2020, and we anticipate it will continue to accelerate in 2022. With payer site of care restrictions increasing, home infusion therapy with infusion suites will continue to grow as an alternative site of care to lower the total cost of care and improve patient convenience. Health systems should aggressively pursue this strategy to diversify their infusion portfolio.
- Focus on cost savings: In 2022, we expect health systems to place a heightened emphasis on reducing supply costs. This is a result of mounting financial pressures, including an increase in labor expense as health systems try to recruit nurses and other workers to keep their doors open. Additionally, many systems are dealing with unanticipated margin reductions due to changes in the 340B program. Pharmacy departments will be asked to reduce cost and cost savings in the pharmacy supply chain will be vital to this effort. Last year, we discussed the uptake of biosimilars, and the biosimilar market has again expanded with price pressure decreasing acquisition cost. Continuing to adopt biosimilars, along with developing robust strategic sourcing programs, can lead to achieving great value from the pharmacy supply chain.