How many hours do you estimate it would take a mid-sized hospital staff to create and manage a hazardous drugs database manually?
In 2023, Medical Design & Outsourcing reported just 23.1% of medtech industry CEOs were women, up from 21.8% in 2022. While the percentage of women in C-suite roles in the medtech industry continues to inch its way up, the industry still has a long way to go in promoting women's leadership.
This is one of many reasons why it is vital for women-owned businesses - especially in all aspects of healthcare - to seek the available certifications and promote talented, intelligent, hard-working women within their organizations.
I practice what I preach and am proud to announce that Rpharmy has recently received certification in the Texas Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program. The HUB Program is a state initiative designed to promote opportunities for businesses owned by minorities and women in the area of state procurement and contracting. It provides various opportunities for women-owned businesses to garner the attention of state agencies and consideration for upcoming contracts.
To our long-time Rpharmy supporters and new acquaintances alike, we express our heartfelt gratitude for your continued trust and partnership. As our network has grown through recent events, online encounters, and customer referrals, we realize it's time to re-introduce the driving force behind our work. Plus, we have some exciting updates about our team to share with you. Read on!
When we say we are passionate about patient and healthcare worker safety, it comes from an authentic place. A little more than 20 years ago, our family experienced a personal loss due to a med error, and shortly after, we had the opportunity to protect other families from the terrible pain of this preventable loss.
My mother-in-law, the mom of Rpharmy COO and Co-Founder John Paxton, went to her scheduled chemotherapy treatment, and the nurse failed to follow the “The 5 Rights” protocol before dosing her for chemo. If the nurse had verified the “Right Patient, Right Drug, Right Dose, Right Time, Right Route” protocol, she would have discovered that my mother-in-law had not been taken off her Coumadin regimen two days before her scheduled chemotherapy treatment. This was essentially a death sentence.
John’s mom was admitted to the hospital 24 hours later, and after about three weeks in the hospital, she moved to hospice care, where she stayed until she died on May 14, 2000, just four months after that avoidable med error.
The pain of her loss was compounded by the fact that it could have been avoided.
A Tragedy Transforms into Purpose
It was no coincidence that I had the opportunity to join Formulary Productions later that year. Founded in 1990, Formulary Productions originally printed 4x6 hard copies of formularies for healthcare systems. Some of you will remember those days of flipping through the formulary, which was essentially outdated the moment it was printed. It feels like a lifetime ago when you consider how far we’ve come.
In 1998, one of their customers - The University of Wisconsin - asked to take their formulary online. Over a weekend, Formulary Productions revolutionized formulary by developing the first cloud-based formulary software for the University of Wisconsin. This was the beginning of what is now Rpharmy’s Formweb solution, which provides critical medication information at the point of care.
Shortly after joining Formulary Productions, I realized that had something like Formweb been available when John’s mom was the victim of a med error, it could have prevented her premature death. I felt a true sense of purpose and direction for my life.
John joined me at Formulary Productions in 2001, and we bought the company in 2004. We continued to enhance Formweb and provide innovations that improve access to vital drug safety information at the point of care and ultimately prevent med error tragedies. In 2019, we rebranded the company, calling it Rpharmy.
Formweb is now utilized in healthcare facilities across the U.S., from specialized oncology clinics to massive 30-hospital systems and even prison healthcare facilities. It is a source of pride to see the broad impact Formweb has on patient safety.
News About the Future of Rpharmy
From the time John and I took over Formulary Productions and it evolved into Rpharmy, it’s been a family business made up of long-term customer and employee relationships. As you may know personally, many of our customers have been with us not only for years but for decades. Some customers have become employees, and others have been with us since the beginning. Basically, when you meet us, you’re stuck with us.
USP <800> compliance requirements touch a variety of healthcare leaders, professionals and departments across a vast and sometimes siloed healthcare system. This is made more complicated and challenging by the fact that USP <800> itself requires physical changes, equipment upgrades, and also many cultural changes across the system.
Much like Oprah’s Favorite Things list, our blogs are gifts that keep on giving… YOU get a blog, YOU get a blog, YOU GET A BLOG! The blogs we selected to share here were not only the most popular throughout the year but also offered helpful information on various topics related to USP <800>, formulary, medication safety and patient and healthcare worker safety. Basically, if you read nothing else this month, check out these blogs. Be sure to let us know what’s on your mind for 2024, and we’ll work to cover it in a future blog.
In blog #3 of our series about how hospitals are working to meet USP <800> compliance with little to no budget, we’ll share more challenges hospitals have faced as they attempt to piecemeal a homegrown USP <800> hazard communication program together vs. investing in a comprehensive technology solution.
In blog #2 of our series about cost-cutting measures hospitals are taking in order to comply with USP <800>, we’ll discuss another area hospitals are trying to address manually - Assessments of Risk.
The effort to comply with USP <800> is time and resource-intensive, requiring significant investments in workflow shifts, and technology upgrades. Many hospitals we’ve spoken with did not have an upfront budget to meet the many hazardous drug safe handling requirements of USP <800>, <795> and <797> and must dedicate large sums to new equipment, PPE and even major building renovations to meet new, stringent compounding requirements.
In an effort to cut expenses where possible, we’re witnessing healthcare facilities attempt to make homegrown technology solutions to replace and, in some cases, simply update outdated and ineffective safety policy documentation and communication methods like spreadsheets and even physical copies. Because the healthcare organization is utilizing existing software or current practices, the efforts are seen as “free” or at least not a major expense.
The reality is that nothing is free. To retrofit an existing technology or protocol to solve a new problem, labor hours are needed, and typically, lots of it.
For instance, we’ve spoken to a healthcare facility whose Willow team is drowning in piles of IT tickets related to the essential use of Epic. In order to save money on the facility’s USP <800> compliance efforts, the WIllow team is now being asked to build out a hazardous drug safe handling and disposal database in addition to their routine tasks of maintaining the system, troubleshooting technical issues and more.
Consider the manpower needed to develop an entirely new solution in addition to the vital work these teams are doing every day. In one case, the hospital estimated it would take at least three people on the WIllow team and an informatics pharmacist who will identify what needs to be built out, create tickets for the project, and thoroughly test Epic throughout the project. For the initial setup, an average of 300 drugs and all of the safety policies for each type of administration must be added to the list and then to the potentially hundreds of ERX modifications.
The overwhelming thought is that this is just the beginning. Hospitals are still only required to reference NIOSH 2016, but many are moving to NIOSH 2020 with the 2023 list biting at their heels. The needs are constantly evolving and with USP <800> enforcement now a reality, hospitals will face another unknown set of requirements.
This is the first in a series of blogs where we will discuss the challenges faced when working to comply with USP <800> under a non-existent or undefined budget for the technology needed to make their facility both safer and compliant. Next time, we’ll go into more detail about how a homegrown technology solution is unsustainable. We’ll share stories from hospitals we’ve talked to about their attempts at creating a solution and why they are now looking at solutions like Rhazdrugs to document and communicate their hazardous drugs' safe handling policies.
We have an existing library of resources to address many challenges of implementing the USP <800> safe handling requirements. Check out other USP <800> Safety First blogs and recordings from our webinar series discussing all things USP <800>.
This week at the ASHRM (American Society for Healthcare Risk Management) 2023 Conference, we learned that the Joint Commission is conducting mock surveys around hazardous drugs to prepare hospitals and healthcare systems for upcoming accreditation surveys.
Healthcare risk management is an all-encompassing concern. As we’ve mentioned before, as a risk manager, you are tasked with protecting patients, healthcare workers, and the facility or system from the many potential risks healthcare organizations face.