Current industry discussions highlight many challenges today’s independent community oncology practices face. Changes in cancer care, regulations, and reimbursement create more pressure on practices than ever before to improve care, reduce costs, and remain viable in an atmosphere of mergers and acquisitions.
In 2012, we worked with Colorado’s largest cancer care provider, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers (RMCC), to study its drug inventory management process and quantify the impact that installing an inventory management, charge capture, and reporting system would have on the provider’s inventory management, specifically with regard to labor costs. The results were eye-opening.
Before installing the system, the admixture staff and RNs were using 4 separate systems to complete the entire process, including (1) an online ordering system to place orders for drugs; (2) a practice management system (PMS) to print patient schedules; (3) iKnowMed, the practice’s electronic health record (EHR) system, to compare planned treatments for patients with the list of scheduled patients; and (4) Pyxis Oncology Station (2011/12 version), for pulling inventory, printing labels, etc.
Perhaps even more astonishing was the realization that the entire process required 16 different steps. It began with the ordering of drugs at the end of the day in preparation for the following day’s patients, and ended with reconciling charges. Many of the steps, such as comparing the PMS and EHR patient lists and reconciling labels and shipping orders, were performed manually with no technological integration and were very time and labor intensive. We learned that staff members involved with the inventory management process were each spending an average of 133 minutes a day to complete the cycle.
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