According to the recent Pharmacy Technology Report published in September 2018, the evolution of IV sterile drug compounding technology has resulted in a greater availability of systems with varying degrees of automation, which can reduce human errors associated with medication management and reduce harm associated with unintended harmful exposure in healthcare workers. In addition to meeting regulatory safety requirements, stakeholders acknowledge, technology can save money after the initial investment in the technology solution chosen.

Based on the increased popularity of these technological IV solutions, the Pharmacy Technology Report surveyed five hospitals to obtain their experiences in implementing the new technology, sharing their lessons learned along the way.

According to Jerry Usher, RPh, the manager of the hospital’s pharmacy department sterile preparations cleanroom at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, after a somewhat slow start in using automated IV compounding, production of the sterile preparations was increased by three times, increasing the financial and clinical payoff of the investment. The pharmacy began by compounding patient-specific doses, “but that wasn’t an efficient way of utilizing the system, so we switched to batch dosing preparation of some of our most commonly used medications,” he explained.

Other health systems described equally significant improvements. Greenville Health System reported increased safety and also decreased costs. According to Gary Jones, PharmD, the compounding pharmacy supervisor for the health system, headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, “When we purchased two systems in August 2014, we wanted a safer way to make IV drugs, but we also saw it as a way to potentially save money.”

Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven Health in Connecticut was considered an early adopter of IV chemotherapy, becoming the first cancer center in the country to install a robotic IV compounding system to improve accuracy and worker safety. According to Howard Cohen, RPh, MS, the director of oncology pharmacy services at the hospital, “We know from past studies that there is variability in dosing associated with manual sterile compounding processes, and robotic technology is one way to reduce this variability.” Cohen emphasized the importance of barcode technology, digital photography, and gravimetric validation as the safety features that appealed to him and his colleagues.

Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and Tufts Medical Center Floating Hospital for Children in Boston  were also included in this report.

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