News: Pharmacy operations center saves money, enhances customer outreach
Story by Dena Selkow
PHILADELPHIA - Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Medical Customer Pharmacy Operations Center helps facilities worldwide procure pharmaceuticals.
Five pharmacists and one analyst make up the CPOC, which was established in April 2011, said Air Force Maj. Achilles Hamilothoris, the center’s division chief. The center was born from an idea to help customers save money and assist with procurement issues resulting in manufacturer back-orders and Trade Agreement Act compliance.
DLA Troop Support pharmacists have a central view of ordering and related data for all Defense Department facilities, including the Tricare Mail Order Pharmacy, Hamilothoris said.
That view, coupled with pharmacy experience and relationships to related organizations and contracting agencies, helps the CPOC guide and manage the medical field in the best way possible.
Hamilothoris said the CPOC has helped countless facilities procure items that they couldn’t before, trained customers on DLA business intelligence tools like the Best Pharm and National Contract Compliance Report and trend savings, helped them save money and time, and helped manufacturers decrease the time it takes to put items on government contract.
Darryl J. Sharkey, a pharmacy logistics manager and technician supervisor at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, uses the Best Pharm and National Contract Compliance Report and said it is a great tool for providing best cost and maintaining compliance within the Department of Defense.
“Staying in the 95 to 100 percentile is simple with the report when medications are available,” Sharkey said. “The staff at DLA responds promptly with any compliance or contract issues that are brought to their attention.”
The cost savings realized from the CPOC are enormous and to this point include: more than $20 million in credits to DoD facilities due to a manufacturer erroneously deleting a contract, Tricare Mail Order Pharmacy saving $86 million a year as a result of switching to lesser-cost alternatives and Trade Agreement Act compliant items, and DoD medical treatment facilities and clinics switching to lesser-cost alternatives, he said.
An expanding network base is also a benefit of the center.
“We've grown DLA's professional relationships with all DoD facilities and organizations [as a result of the CPOC],” Hamilothoris said. “These increased relationships are critical during policy and strategy development.”
DLA Troop Support Medical recently developed a tracking tool to compare the CPOC recommendations to facilities actually accepting these recommendations and realized a savings of almost $17 million for the first two quarters of fiscal 2013, he said, exceeding the set goal by 255 percent.
Hamilothoris noted that when facilities cannot accept CPOC recommendations they are still made aware of lesser-cost alternatives available and can make sound managerial decisions based on their patient needs.
“I believe the biggest change is DLA’s professional relationship. … Facilities now come to us with help requests at an exponentially growing rate, and the outside organizations include us in the decision-making process,” he said.
A future goal is to develop indicators that will automatically inform the CPOC when there are potential issues that may impact the field, Hamilothoris said. Early indicators of potential problems can help the CPOC quickly jump on the problem.
“Our only obstacles are time and customer trust,” he added. “We must have the time to address the numerous help and training requests we receive and maintain our customers' trust by providing valid, reliable and repeatable assistance and tools for them to use in their day-to-day duties.”