How a 32-location oncology practice converted to a more effective drug savings and distribution strategy in just 10 days.
Tennessee Oncology was ready to implement a new practice-wide strategy for lowering specialty pharmaceutical costs while maintaining the quality of patient care. But how could they successfully convert 32 community locations and 59 automated dispensing machines (ADMs) at the same time?
Even more daunting, how could they do it all in just 10 days during the holiday season?
“We knew we were going to need a roadmap that was relevant to not only our entire organization, but also customized for the distinctly different needs of 32 practices,” said Ron Horowitz, CFO, Tennessee Oncology. “And that plan had to accommodate not only a short time frame, but also the time of year itself.”
The answer was as simple as it was effective: the systematic onboarding process of Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions and its group purchasing organization, VitalSource™ GPO.
The key to successful onboarding is customer intimacy—understanding challenges on an individual practice level and then developing customized solutions that improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase financial performance.
Working closely together, Tennessee Oncology and Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions developed a complete specialty pharmaceutical purchasing and distribution solution that not only met the aggressive timeline, but also achieved the value-based mix of price, service and technology that would advance Tennessee Oncology’s mission to provide quality care close to its patients’ homes.
To succeed, the onboarding approach had to weigh all options and pressure-test them before making recommendations—for example, conducting capacity planning to ensure smooth implementation across multiple sites within a tight timeframe.
“There was a game plan for every scenario,” said Mike Smith, Director of Strategic Planning and Execution, Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. “That level of planning and flexibility was essential to our success,” said Sheila Elliott, Pharmacy System Manager, Tennessee Oncology.
To maximize efficiency and cost savings, the formulary had to be aligned across 32 very different practices. Clinical, IT and distribution perspectives all had to come together under an umbrella of collaboration and mutual agreement.
“I believe this was the biggest conversion ever in our industry,” said Ron Horowitz, CFO, Tennessee Oncology. “Despite the challenge, Cardinal Health made every effort to ensure accuracy. And it showed in the satisfaction levels among our clinicians and staff during implementation.”
“Tennessee Oncology isn’t just one of the largest cancer centers in the country with 32 different locations. For onboarding, it is 32 unique clients with very specific needs,” said Jeff Lovesy, VP Direct Sales Management, Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. “Different scheduling, products, chemotherapy, IT, services—everything.” So understanding and solving the unique challenges of each practice was critical to successful onboarding.
“Cardinal Health addressed every challenge right away—and they were not repeated,” said Stacey McCullough, Director of Pharmacy, Tennessee Oncology.
A centralized ‘War Room’ was established where clinical and administrative leadership on both sides came together to manage the rollout. Plans and status updates were then communicated to all sites to keep everyone up to date and on board with progress.
By combining structured yet tailored implementation, daily communication and an unwavering commitment to customer intimacy, Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions made what seemed impossible, possible. And the results are benefiting Tennessee Oncology and its patients every day.
Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions provides the services, technologies and expertise to help community-based practices run successful, efficient businesses. With these tools working efficiently in the background at Tennessee Oncology and elsewhere across the country, clinicians and their patients can focus more on care. And that’s why we’re all here.