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Medical center’s EHR helps save enough money to hire an additional pharmacist

by Pagosa Springs Medical Center

Published on 2/27/2019

When Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, began using data pulled from its Cerner electronic health record (EHR) for the 340B pharmacy program, PSMC realized enough savings to help support the costs to launch an oncology service line and add a pharmacist.

“We were thrilled with the savings we saw from the 340B administrator,” said Rhonda Webb, MD, CEO and chief medical officer. “We immediately began seeing not only financial savings, but also time savings, which allowed staff to focus on other important tasks.”

The nationwide 340B Drug Discount Program allows qualified health systems to purchase drugs at lower prices, helping them stretch scarce federal resources, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services. However, PSMC could only purchase medications at the lower prices after they had accumulated enough uses on qualifying patients to reorder a full box at the lower price.

Pharmacy Director Christina Reeves said manually keeping track of all the auditable data required for the 340B process used to be quite time consuming.

“Before utilizing EHR data for PSMC’s 340B program, we could only keep track of a handful of our most expensive medications,” she said.

Moving from paper to an electronic process improved efficiency, allowing staff to track all medications purchased rather than a select few. Staff leveraged the EHR to verify qualifying transactions based on patient encounter type, date, medication national drug code, quantity and prescriber. Staff uploaded the electronic data to a 340B administrator who kept track of the accumulations.

The 340B administrator used the electronic data to verify if PSMC had enough qualifying transactions to order the medications under its 340B account. PSMC no longer needs to figure out what medications to order on which account, since it became an automated process.

Leveraging EHR technology allowed PSMC to save an average of more than $43,000­ each month for a total of more than $695,000 from August 2017 – November 2018.

The new process didn’t just save money, but time as well.

“Previously, staff spent hours each month on the 340B process,” Reeves said. “After implementation, we could complete our tasks much quicker. It is one more way we shifted our focus away from record keeping and onto patients instead.”

Staff plan to build on the previous work moving forward, where projects include optimizing physician EHR usage and documentation.

For more information about how Cerner supports community, critical access and specialty hospitals, visit our CommunityWorks page.

Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realized by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.