Pharmacy Materials Management: Lean and Accountable

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Operational Performance Improvement

Julia Swanson
Project Manager
Henry Ford Health System

Management Services was requested to assist the Pharmacy Materials Management department in implementing a new information system while reviewing and redesigning how the department functioned. This review and redesign included staff roles and responsibilities, new processes, and improved compliance with compensating control requirements while facilitating between multiple departments with competing desires and approaches.

Management Services facilitated the implementation of a computer system that automates the ordering, receiving, and invoice payment processes with pharmacy materials management. The benefits of the new system are decreased cost by allowing Henry Ford Health System to purchase drugs at 340b pricing, compensating control and audit measures and practices, enhanced inventory control and quantification, 3-way invoice matching, and automatic interfaces with top drug distributors.

While the installing the computer system was the initial purpose, it soon be came obvious that we were in jeopardy of installing a new system with old processes which would result in the same outcomes. Some of the primary outcome concerns included that inventory levels were too high and inaccurate, roles and responsibilities were not separate providing the opportunity for product loss, and that rework and waste was occurring.

Therefore, in conjunction with a project team from Pharmacy, Management Services undertook a process to review current staff roles and redesign new roles that result in separation of duties, increased knowledge at the technical or "middle" staff level, and the ability to provide coverage when staff members are away. Next a greater understanding of the capabilities of the information system was gained in order to make functional decisions as to how the system would be applied at Henry Ford, to determine if the facility layout supported the computer system and to develop detailed processes through the application of lean methodologies including value stream mapping. This redesign effort required the application of many management engineering techniques including job analysis, facilitation, lean methodologies, process improvement, error reduction, facility redesign review, and overall change and project management.