IRVING, Texas, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- VHA Inc., the national health care
cooperative, is helping hospitals shave millions from their pharmacy budgets
by helping them plan and implement standardization and utilization programs
for their most commonly-used drugs.
VHA has a team of more than one dozen clinical pharmacists across the
country that helps hospitals and health systems develop and implement plans to
trim their growing pharmacy budgets. Today, pharmaceuticals represent
22 percent of hospitals' total supply budgets and medication costs are growing
faster than total health care costs (12 percent to 7 percent), annually.
Oftentimes, reimbursement for high-cost pharmaceuticals doesn't cover the cost
of the drugs, so hospital pharmacy departments incur heavy losses.
"We help hospitals save between 10 percent and 30 percent on the drugs
they buy most often," said Bruce Weiner, senior director of pharmacy for VHA.
"The net savings for the overall pharmacy budget differs for each
organization, but the overall impact is still significant."
At DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., VHA's pharmacy team
not only helped the organization identify and prioritize opportunities to
reduce pharmacy costs, but also assisted with implementation. Ultimately, DCH
saved more than $600,000 in 2004, with VHA's help.
According to Tim Martin, director of pharmacy at DCH, "The clinical
experience that VHA's pharmacy team brings to the table helped us manage
objectives and approach this project with a clearer vision."
VHA pharmacists work with hospital pharmacy teams to identify
opportunities to standardize drugs based on existing prescription and drug
administration patterns and the mix of patients in the hospitals and
communities. Hospitals often were purchasing multiple drugs with similar
chemical composition and clinical purpose. The VHA team demonstrates the
clinical equivalency of these drugs and highlights the savings opportunities
from standardizing on a single agent. The team also helps member hospitals
benchmark their pharmacy purchasing patterns with other VHA members and
examine drug costs in hospital departments that have high drug usage, such as
intensive care units.
The VHA pharmacy team focuses on high cost drug products and therapeutic
categories. The following nine drug product categories commonly represent
more than 60 percent of most hospital pharmacy budgets:
-- Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors
-- 5HT3 receptor antagonists, also called antiemetics
-- Low molecular weight heparins
-- Oncology adjuvants
-- Critical Care Medications
VHA leverages the bulk purchasing volume of member health care
organizations to create purchasing contracts that help members lower their
total supply costs. VHA members use the purchasing agreements that are
managed by Novation, VHA's supply company. Using Novation agreements, VHA
members, along with health care organizations that belong to the University
HealthSystem Consortium, will purchase nearly $8 billion in pharmaceutical
products in 2004.
VHA Inc. is a national cooperative of leading not-for-profit health care
organizations that work together to improve the health of the communities they
serve. VHA leverages the collective strength of the membership to help
members improve clinical, operational and financial performance. Through the
VHA cooperative, members benefit from resources to assess critical needs and
identify best practices to create customized solutions to improve. As a
cooperative, VHA distributes income annually to members based on their
participation. Based in Irving, Texas, with 18 offices across the United
States, VHA was named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune
in January 2004, for the fifth year in a row.
Lynn Gentry Kristin Lucido
VHA Inc. Novation
SOURCE VHA Inc.