Advocate Aurora halfway to saving $500K this year on meds inventory optimization

Advocate Aurora halfway to saving $500K this year on meds inventory optimization

A large, 27-hospital health system like Advocate Aurora Health always is seeking operational efficiency – with patient safety top of mind. Health systems always are trying to improve no matter where the baseline may be.


Within a large health system, it’s essential to integrate technology vertically and horizontally within the organization – and this integration needs to be effective with the electronic health record, said Kersten Weber Tatarelis, PharmD, vice president of pharmacy operations at Advocate Aurora Health.

“After making some rather aggressive decisions about unifying our electronic health records, we evaluated how we wanted to automate and integrate,” she recalled. “We knew we could gain operational efficiency by making broader and bolder decisions with our medication management platforms.

“In addition to gaining efficiencies in pharmacy and nursing operational workflows, we were very interested in inventory management optimization,” she continued. “Advocate Aurora has a central distribution center with 27 primary hospitals. We wanted to work universally, rather than in parallel, and see into our facilities to reduce overhead further and drive costs down.”

Finally, a problem the health system always had struggled with was data management and analytics, as have many organizations its size. Aligning on one platform would allow it to extract the same information and further analyze it to improve operational efficiency and optimize patient safety, she added.


Recently, Advocate Aurora Health rolled out Pyxis Logistics from technology vendor BD across all 27 Advocate Aurora hospitals, allowing the organization to operate efficiently from a central distribution process in a hub-and-spoke model and drive some of those inventory-management cost savings, Weber Tatarelis explained.

“And we can maximize our inventory-management optimization using BD HealthSight Inventory Optimization Analytics, enable data extraction and use big data for PAR-level optimization,” she said.


Advocate Aurora Health implemented BD Pyxis Logistics to help address its inventory management challenges. That allowed the organization to roll out BD HealthSight Inventory Optimization Analytics to help ensure it has more inventory control from a central function compared to previous workflows.

The pharmacy supply chain team primarily manages it. With this central distribution center, the health system has maximized the entire workflow and now has a line of sight to big data.

“Driving change in a meaningful way requires a dedicated analytics team to extract the data and translate it into a digestible format for the end user.”

Kersten Weber Tatarelis, PharmD, Advocate Aurora Health

“Everyone uses the technology – from our hospital directors, who are well equipped to manage and utilize the software at the site level, to our technicians and managers, who are well trained,” Weber Tatarelis noted. “It was crucial to have all operational leaders very engaged for it to be successful.

“With this technology, we have reduced redundancy in purchasing,” she continued. “By moving to central purchasing, we eliminated the need for a technician at every single hospital site location. With a line of sight into PAR-levels within our central pharmacy and our 27 different locations, we can better track drug movement in near real time to make decisions on appropriate purchasing.”

In addition, because the health system has a central distribution center, it can hub-and-spoke and manage drug movement across the system rather seamlessly in minimizing PAR-levels, which drives cost direction, she added.

“It’s important to point out that it hasn’t reduced the need for a technician to deliver, check and stock products,” she said. “That remains a manual function at each site. But the actual PAR-level assessment, purchasing, inventory management and control can be done remotely and virtually.”


Advocate Aurora Health sets targets and goals annually. With BD HealthSight Inventory Optimization in place this year, the health system has an inventory reduction target set at roughly $500,000. Just halfway through Q2, the organization already is at 50% toward reaching the annual goal.

“We can extract that data and track it month by month, site by site,” Weber Tatarelis said. “Sites can see how they’re managing their inventory locally, and the central team can track inventory management across the health system. We also track stock-out percentages to achieve as low as possible across the system.

“We pull a lot of data that we then dissect to evaluate from a safety efficiency and outcome perspective, including time-critical medication administration and compliance dashboards,” she continued. “We also evaluate time to waste – the variation between BD Pyxis ES MedStation pulls and documentation of the waste of product within our ADCs.”

This data and evaluation helps inform discrepancies and documentation between the electronic health record and BD Pyxis ES MedStations, she added.


Having a dedicated automation and IT team within the health system to ensure you’re scoping, launching and supporting these technologies in the go-live efforts is essential, Weber Tatarelis advised.

“We have a fantastic team, and the rollouts from the first to the 27th installation were seamless,” she said. “Because we had that dedicated team to work out the kinks, it also provided up-front training and education to our frontline staff.

“In addition, driving change in a meaningful way requires a dedicated analytics team to extract the data and translate it into a digestible format for the end user,” she concluded.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT

Email the writer:

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.