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How to Optimize the Relationship Between Nursing and Pharmacy

June 5, 2018 | by Brian Shoenfeld

improve patient outcomesLean operations managers in an acute care facility are continually striving for efficiency while fighting against the strong headwind of a broken system. The departments that are often caught up in this storm are Nursing and Pharmacy.

Nursing is working hard to maintain their patient satisfaction scores at a time when nurse-to-patient ratios are increasing nationally. Meanwhile, Pharmacy is trying to fill accurate and correct medication orders while routinely training new pharmacy technicians due to high turnover.

Both sides need each other to achieve operational effectiveness, yet these vital departments are often frustrated by how the system makes their lives more difficult. If their frustrations are not dealt with, the result could be rising costs for your facility due to inefficient workflows.

Additionally, because both departments work so closely together, you do not want them to enter survival mode just focusing on their department and losing sight of how to work together to drive toward your facility’s ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes.

If you find yourself in the middle of a storm trying to optimize the relationship between Nursing and Pharmacy, consider the most significant challenges that each side is facing and how to find the right solution for your facility.

What Is a Big Challenge for Nursing?

In a broken system, mistakes such as medication errors directly affect the nursing department’s ability to serve patients best. Nursing then enters survival mode because they have lost trust in the system to accurately deliver medications.

In the ideal system, nurses trust the pharmacy department — and themselves — to provide the correct medication, in the right dosage, and at the right time for their patients.

However, if nurses lose trust in the process following a mistake or series of errors, nurses will be forced to spend extra time verifying the accuracy of medication before administering to the patient. These unnecessary steps will negatively impact the nurses’ ability to perform at the highest level of their licensure.

Over time, this inefficiency in the workflow will cause nurses to spend less time at the bedside caring for their patients, reducing patient satisfaction scores.

The nursing department of your facility is already battling to maintain reasonable nurse-to-patient ratios. They should not be fighting another battle questioning whether the system is set up correctly for Pharmacy to support them.

What Are Two Big Challenges for Pharmacy?

Pharmacy managers desire for their personnel to be great team players supporting Nursing and the overall hospital facility. However, a broken system creates headaches for Pharmacy’s two big challenges of effective medication management and accurate medication distribution.

The pharmacy manager is driven by ensuring that their staff effectively manages the medication inventory. This can become challenging, though, when the system is not conducive to personnel following policies & procedures and when there is constant turnover.

Additionally, pharmacy managers are focused on making sure their technicians transport medication safely, securely, accurately, and efficiently to the nursing department. However, if pharmacists and pharmacy techs are constantly pulled away from their regular tasks to handle unnecessary issues, they could lose focus on proper execution. The result is inefficiencies in your organization’s workflow and safety issues that affect Nursing.

As the Lean Operations manager, you play a critical role pushing through the headwind of a broken system to support Pharmacy’s contribution to the overall efficiency and safety of your facility. Then, Pharmacy will be empowered to grow their capabilities, reduce pharmacy tech turnover, and better support nursing for higher quality patient care.

How Talon Supports Nursing and Pharmacy to Improve Patient Outcomes

One of the Talon initiatives to help improve the system is shifting medication delivery responsibility to the pharmacy department, alleviating that responsibility from the nursing staff. We help acute care facilities achieve this goal through our MedCab™and MedCart™ products that enable the optimal medication management solution for your facility.

Our products integrate directly into your existing workflow to improve the efficiency of your workflow. Pharmacy is supported through maintaining greater control of medication inventory throughout the facility. Additionally, nursing is supported by an effective means of retrieving and dispensing the medication while spending more time with the patient.

We understand that a repeated mistake or a major one-off mistake could have tremendous consequences for your facility. That’s why we created products that support both of these critical departments in your facility. The result is optimizing their working relationship and focusing on patient outcomes to improve patient satisfaction scores.

Talon would like to discuss how our solutions for acute care facilities can support your goal of achieving a more efficient facility. Contact one of our Client Solutions Representatives today to get started!


About the Author

Brian Shoenfeld

Brian joined Talon in 2014 and brought with him a proven track record for project managing, product development, and increasing operational efficiency. Using his knowledge of STEM, business prowess, and healthcare experience, Brian leads Talon’s operational improvements to create better products and improved customer service. When he’s not in the office, Brian spends time with his wife and two sons and cheers on Syracuse.