Safety First Blog

An Update: The Modern Formulary

Posted by Laura Paxton on Jan 31, 2023 7:51:00 AM
Laura Paxton
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With the continued trend of hospital consolidation, the modern formulary is now going system-wide. In upcoming Safety First Blogs, I'll share more information on the benefits of merging individual formularies into one system-wide database, even when it's a mammoth job. In the meantime, here's a look at a still-relevant blog about where formulary has been and where it's going. 

A hospital’s formulary initially consisted of a simple book of medications approved for patient use in that particular organization. When hospitals made their formulary available online in the late 1990s, it was basically the same book, but now on a computer screen. In the last 20 years, formulary has evolved from a simple book into a complex system comprised of the policies and procedures a healthcare system uses to select medications and the methods by which these medications are prescribed, dispensed, and administered. 

A Joint Commission standard states, “The hospital develops and approves criteria for selecting medications, which, at a minimum, include the following: indications for use, effectiveness, drug interaction, the potential for errors and abuse, adverse drug events, sentinel event advisories, population(s) served (eg, pediatrics, geriatrics), other risks, costs.”

Nothing simple about that list. 

The importance of the information housed in a healthcare organization’s formulary system cannot be understated. Patient care is directly impacted by this vital information and how frequently it is evaluated and updated. This often manual review process is overseen by the pharmacy and therapeutics (PT) committee comprised of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, hospital administrators, quality assurance staff, and other healthcare workers. 

When prescribing treatments, physicians and pharmacies typically reference their organization’s formulary information in conjunction with other hospital-specific safety protocols and regulatory requirements from the Joint Commission, FDA, OSHA, and HFAP. The tremendous amount of information healthcare workers must take into account is overwhelming, including Black Box warnings, look-alike-sound-alike medications, high alerts, and more. 

If the initial creation of a formulary and the ongoing effort to keep it current seems overwhelming, imagine combining more than one of these massive systems. In the current environment of hospital system consolidation, hospitals must take on the herculean effort of integrating multiple formulary systems with ease and precision. Patient care is on the line. 

The Rpharmy team recognized the nearly impossible task being asked of healthcare teams and the implications on patient care and safety. Not only did our team pioneer the first customizable, searchable database, but we’ve helped many hospital systems with the complex task of integrating multiple formularies into one. 

If you have questions related to formulary systems or would like to stay on top of the latest information, please sign up for our newsletter. 

ICYMI, check out our recent blog sharing the Top 8 Questions from Joint Commission Inspections straight from our customers’ experiences.

Topics: Rhazdrugs, Policy, USP <800>, Formweb, Formulary

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