The nationwide pharmacist shortage is impacting hospitals, retail and community pharmacies, with many facing double-digit vacancy rates. This issue may not be new, but has been exacerbated by COVID and recently validated by a joint survey conducted by ASHP and PTCB.
In many pharmacies, the staff that are left are doing more work to pick up the load – or in some cases pharmacists, students and residents are filling in the gaps of traditional technician work. The effort to maintain USP compliance will only increase once the USP updates are finalized by doubling the competency frequency and increasing the surface sampling requirements to monthly. With the heavy workload and alternate staff covering additional responsibilities, they may not be as proficient in workflows that support compliance creating wider gaps and exposing pharmacies to risks in compliance.
Compliance provides the foundation of all pharmacy activities. Essentia Health has leveraged Simplifi 797 to monitor compliance as well as help their teams focus during these challenging times. “We view our compliance program as the core of what we do, so that no matter where a patient encounters our system, they can be confident in the care they receive,” says David Sperl, PharmD, Senior Director, Acute Pharmacy at Essentia Health. Simplifi 797 has helped the Essentia pharmacy team keep an eye on compliance remotely when leaders were working from home. On the front lines, by standardizing tasks in Simplifi 797, new staff have a clear expectation of what needs to get done each day, week and month. In fact, this actually frees up pharmacy trainers to spend more time on more complex training components and has relieved some training fatigue for their team.
Implementing an internal technician program
To help address the pharmacist shortages, over a third of pharmacy employers implemented an internal technician training program in the last two years. In a recent webinar, Lilit Smith, PharmD, MBA, Manager of Home Infusion Services at Baptist Health South Florida shared how her health system partnered with a local pharmacy technician program to develop competency compounding technicians. BHSF employees can also enroll in the program to progress their skills and cross over into compounding roles.
Supporting staff shortages with Simplifi 797 and Simplifi+ Medstorage
At Wolters Kluwer Health, we believe patients deserve the best care everywhere. And we understand that can be a tall order to fill when you don't have enough staff to provide the same level of services or enough of a critical medication due to yet another drug shortage. By building software that helps guide compliance with USP and accreditation standards and delivering consistent results, we help pharmacy teams get their most important work done no matter who is filling the role that day. Let's explore ways Simplifi 797 and Simplifi+ MedStorage can help you keep a handle on compliance in the midst of these trying times.
Simplifi 797 and Simplifi+ MedStorage provide seamless access for compounding and medication storage documentation activities, tools for standard workflows and an intuitive user interface that makes for smooth onboarding to limit compliance gaps.
- Implementation is supported by our expert team who quickly guide you through set up and help you focus on the necessary items to meet compliance standards. Simplifi 797 templates are based on industry best practices and require limited customization to support compliance right from the start.
- Staff training for end users is as quick at 6 minutes via a web-based tutorial. You can also use this as a refresher for those staff cross-covering in compounding or medication unit inspections.
- Elevate user permissions for technician leads who may have expanded responsibilities as they move up the career ladder or share the administrative load with others in the department. Simplifi 797 supports expanded permissions for competency sign offs, task list management and reference editors.
- Notifications alert leaders to upcoming, out of limits and overdue items so they can be acted on in real time.
- Actionable analytics helps pharmacy leaders identify gaps and close them in a timely manner so be continuously ready and maintain compliance.
Most importantly – keep focused on why compliance is important. At the end of every medication handled, prepared or stored in your pharmacy or facility is a patient that could have been one of your own staff, family member or neighbor in the community. The work we do to follow regulatory standards supports the best care and safety for our loved ones and each other.
Lastly – I personally want to acknowledge the efforts of fellow pharmacy leaders who always seem to have too much on their plate. At the same time, it is also never enough –not enough staff, not enough critical drugs, not enough funding to expand the programs or facilities that can make an impact. For pharmacy leaders, managing all these shortages is a necessity that also comes with little thanks and increases the risk for burnout. May you find peace in knowing You Are Enough and the breathing room in your day to notice the abundance of skill, talent and grace that surround you.