Impact of Clinical Pharmacy Surveillance on Pharmacy Services: A Quality Improvement Project : Journal of Healthcare Management

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Impact of Clinical Pharmacy Surveillance on Pharmacy Services: A Quality Improvement Project

Kramer, Joan S. PharmD, BCPS, DPLA; Borum, Cynthia DNP, APRN, FNP-C, NE-BC; Claxon, Evan L. PharmD; Wines, Kahari J. PharmD; Fraker, Sarah CHDA; Burgess, L. Hayley PharmD, BCPP, CPPS

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Journal of Healthcare Management 68(5):p 312-324, September/October 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/JHM-D-22-00176



The purpose of this quality improvement project was to retrospectively evaluate pharmacist time to clinical surveillance alert intervention before and after implementing a pharmacy-directed alert priority category across a large for-profit United States health system with well-established clinical pharmacy surveillance software integrated into the clinical pharmacy workflow. The findings contributed to a financial evaluation of pharmacist productivity compared with drug spend for pharmacy-directed interventions that included intravenous (IV)-to-oral-conversion and renal dosing opportunities.


A retrospective quality improvement pre-/postanalysis of deidentified, prepopulated clinical surveillance alert data for the preimplementation period of January 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, was compared with that for the postimplementation period of November 1, 2021, to January 31, 2022, for 169 hospitals. Clinical pharmacist workflow was mapped pre- and postimplementation. The average time to alert intervention was calculated using the mean time in minutes between the alert firing within the software and when the pharmacist reviewed the alert, grouped by hospital, alert status, and priority category. Medications converted from IV to oral were assessed using the clinical surveillance software IV-to-oral calculator. Postimplementation renal dose cost savings were modeled using pharmacist-completed alerts by rule name that indicated a possible dose decrease based on the patient's renal function and current medication.

Principal Findings: 

Time to alert intervention for all completed pharmacist interventions was reduced for high-priority alerts by 32.6 min (p < .001) and routine-priority alerts by 65.1 min (p = .147). Alerts that moved to the pharmacy-directed alert priority category resulted in a reduced time to alert intervention of 38.7 min (p = .003). Normalized average wholesale price (AWP) cost savings from IV-to-oral conversion within 3 days of conversion eligibility were $1,693,600 in the preimplementation period and $1,867,400 in the postimplementation period, a $173,700 increase in cost savings. A total of 7,972 completed postimplementation renal dose adjustments resulted in a modeled AWP normalized cost savings of $1,076,700.

Practical Applications: 

Results indicated that optimizing clinical surveillance software alerts was effective and increased pharmacist productivity. Specifically, creating a pharmacy-directed alert category that pharmacists were able to complete by hospital policy or protocol improved workflow efficiency and increased IV-to-oral medication conversion cost savings. Further study is needed to validate the renal dose–modeled cost savings and address the financial benefits of quality measures to prevent acute kidney injury.

© 2023 Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives

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