The Intersection of Health-System Pharmacists and Healthcare Performance: An Analysis

Ben H.

Ben H.

Sep 29, 20233 min read


The Intersection of Health-System Pharmacists and Healthcare Performance: An Analysis


In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, the role of health-system pharmacists and their impact on patient outcomes cannot be overstated. With a focus on community pharmacies, the value they bring to the table is becoming increasingly evident. This article will explore the connection between health-system pharmacies and healthcare performance, shedding light on the benefits they offer and the challenges they face.

Community Pharmacies: A Vital Component of Health Systems

Advocate Aurora Health, a prominent healthcare organization, has taken the lead in recognizing the value of community pharmacies. With an impressive network of 71 retail pharmacies in Wisconsin and Illinois, it stands as one of the largest health-system owned and operated retail pharmacy networks in the country. This highlights the growing trend of health systems incorporating community pharmacies into their framework.

The Link Between Outpatient Dispensing Pharmacies and Hospital Pharmacy Practice

The results of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists' (ASHP) 2017 national survey revealed that around a third of hospitals and health systems had an outpatient dispensing pharmacy. What's noteworthy is that approximately 75% of these pharmacies were operated by the health-system's pharmacy department. This integration allows for seamless coordination between inpatient and outpatient care, leading to improved patient outcomes.

Bedside Delivery and Disease Management: A Winning Combination

One significant advantage of community pharmacies embedded within health systems is the ability to provide bedside delivery of postdischarge medications. For instance, at Tufts, retail pharmacists collaborate with clinic-based pharmacy staff to ensure patients receive their medications promptly. This approach has proven successful in managing chronic conditions such as diabetes. Patients with diabetes have experienced an average reduction of 1.8 percentage points in their glycosylated hemoglobin levels. Furthermore, pharmacist-managed patients with hypertension and heart failure have achieved impressive results in meeting their respective health goals.

HCA Healthcare: Embracing the Fundamentals

HCA Healthcare, a prominent healthcare provider, has demonstrated a commitment to delivering high-quality care. Their second-quarter performance reflects a focus on the fundamentals. With a notable increase in utilization at HCA facilities, outpatient care has emerged as a frontrunner. Cardiology and orthopedics have led the way for specialty growth, indicating the organization's dedication to meeting the growing demand for specialized services.

Navigating Regional Challenges and Labor Environment

While HCA Healthcare has experienced growth in most markets, a slowdown in the Midwest and certain Florida markets poses challenges. However, the organization remains resilient, leveraging demographic trends and focusing on right-sizing their labor environment. By actively addressing labor-related issues, HCA Healthcare aims to ensure the optimal delivery of care to its patients.

The Resilience of For-Profit Healthcare Providers

In a landscape dominated by nonprofit organizations, for-profit healthcare providers like HCA Healthcare, Tenet, and UHS have consistently defied expectations, operating at low margins. The growing utilization of healthcare services acts as a tide that lifts all care delivery organizations, regardless of their profit status. This highlights the resilience and adaptability of for-profit providers in an ever-changing industry.

Actionable Advice for Health-System Pharmacists:

  • 1. Embrace Collaboration: Actively collaborate with clinic-based pharmacy staff to ensure seamless coordination and delivery of care to patients, particularly during transitions of care.
  • 2. Prioritize Disease Management: Utilize the expertise of pharmacists to develop and implement disease management programs targeting chronic conditions. Focus on measurable outcomes to track progress and success rates.
  • 3. Stay Agile in a Changing Landscape: Keep abreast of market trends and adapt to changes in the healthcare industry. Continuously assess labor environments and right-size when necessary to improve operational efficiency.


The integration of community pharmacies within health systems presents a wealth of opportunities to enhance patient care and outcomes. The success stories of organizations like Advocate Aurora Health and HCA Healthcare demonstrate the tangible benefits of this approach. By leveraging the expertise of health-system pharmacists and embracing collaboration, healthcare providers can navigate challenges and optimize care delivery. As the industry continues to evolve, health-system pharmacists hold a pivotal role in shaping the future of healthcare.

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