Defend Aurora halfway to saving $500,000 this year on drug inventory optimization

A large 27-hospital health system like Advocate Aurora Health is always striving for operational efficiency – with patient safety at the forefront. Health systems are always trying to improve, no matter where the baseline is.


In a large healthcare system, it’s critical to integrate technology vertically and horizontally across the organization — and that integration needs to be effective with the electronic health record, said Kersten Weber Tatarelis, PharmD, vice president of pharmaceutical operations at Advocate Aurora Health.

“After making some pretty aggressive decisions about unifying our electronic health records, we assessed how we wanted to automate and integrate,” she recalls. “We knew we could gain operational efficiencies by making bigger, bolder decisions with our medication management platforms.

“In addition to gaining efficiencies in pharmacy and nursing operational workflows, we were very interested in optimizing inventory management,” 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 further reduce overhead and lower costs.”

Finally, an issue that the healthcare system has always struggled with was data management and analysis, as many organizations of its size have done. Aligning to a platform would allow it to extract the same information and analyze it in greater depth to improve operational efficiency and optimize patient safety, she added.


Recently, Advocate Aurora Health deployed technology provider BD’s Pyxis Logistics to all 27 Advocate Aurora hospitals, enabling 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 mining, and use big data for PAR-level optimization,” she said.


Attorney Aurora Health set up BD Pyxis Logistics to help with its inventory management challenges. This allowed the organization to deploy BD HealthSight Inventory Optimization Analytics to ensure it has more inventory control from a central function compared to previous workflows.

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

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

Kersten Weber Tatarelis, PharmD, Attorney Aurora Health

“Everyone uses the technology – from our hospital managers, who are well equipped to manage and use the software at the site level, to our technicians and managers, who are well trained,” noted Weber Tatarelis. “It was crucial that all operational leaders were very committed to making this a success.

“Thanks to this technology, we have reduced redundancy in purchases,” she continued. “By moving to centralized purchasing, we have eliminated the need for a technician at each hospital site. With a direct view of PAR levels within our central pharmacy and across our 27 different sites, we can better keep up with the flow near real-time medications to make appropriate purchasing decisions.”

Additionally, because the health system has a central distribution center, it can be hub-and-spoke and manage the movement of drugs through the system quite seamlessly by minimizing PAR levels, which drives costs, she added.

“It is important to emphasize that this has not reduced the need for a technician to deliver, verify and store products,” she said. “This remains a manual function at each location. But stock valuation, purchasing, management and control at the PAR level can be done remotely and virtually.”


Advocate Aurora Health sets targets and goals each year. With BD HealthSight’s inventory optimization in place this year, the healthcare system has an inventory reduction target of approximately $500,000. Halfway through the second quarter, the organization is already 50% closer to meeting 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 are managing their inventory locally, and the central team can track inventory management across the health system. We also track stock-out percentages to get to the lowest possible level in the whole system.

“We extract a lot of data which we then dissect to assess it from a safety efficiency and outcome perspective, including urgent medication administration and compliance dashboards,” she said. for follow-up. “We also assess wasted time – the variation between BD Pyxis ES MedStation print runs and documenting product wastage within our ADCs.”

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


Having a dedicated automation and IT team within the healthcare system is essential to ensure that you scope, launch and support these technologies in go-live efforts, Weber Tatarelis advised.

“We have a fantastic team and the deployments from the first to the 27th installation went smoothly,” she said. “Because we had this dedicated team to resolve issues, they also provided initial training and education to our frontline staff.

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

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the author: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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