A new high-tech sterile compounding system is now being used by the pharmacy at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph — providing a safer and more efficient way of ensuring timely access to critically needed IV medications.
The Omnicell i.v.STATION system is the first of its kind in Kansas and for Ascension, which is the largest non-profit health system in the United States.
“This is a major investment in patient safety,” said Jim Garrelts, senior director of Pharmacy for Via Christi Health, of the new system, which will be used to compound a variety of medications that are delivered intravenously, including drugs given during surgery, antibiotics for combatting infection and analgesics to alleviate pain. “The robots are precise and record each and every step of the compounding process, which is then confirmed by the pharmacist.”
In addition to reducing the opportunity for error, IV medications compounded by the robotic system have a significantly longer shelf life — ranging from an average of two to three months vs. the one to seven-day average of those compounded manually.
While located within the pharmacy at St. Joseph, the system will be used to prepare IV medications for Via Christi’s hospitals in Wichita, Manhattan, Wamego and Pittsburg as well as for Via Christi Clinic’s outpatient sites.
“Because of the complexity and regulatory requirements, many systems choose to outsource compounded IV medications, but do so at a premium price,” said Garrelts, who was part of the Ascension product selection committee that determined which robotic system would be purchased. “We’ve opted to insource the compounding of our IV medications so that we can control quality, access and cost.”
Being able to compound IV medications locally also is expected to help ensure access to medications during times of national shortages.
“Often the shortages are related to certain dosages or packaging,” Garrelts said. “But being able to compound our own in a highly precise, ready-to-administer form with a long shelf life will provide us with an actionable alternative.”
Nationwide, IV medications represent 80 percent of drug spend and about two-thirds of all hospital pharmacy costs.
About Via Christi Health
In Kansas, Ascension’s Via Christi Health operates nine hospitals and 75 other sites of care and employs more than 6,000 associates. Across the state, Via Christi provided more than $77.8 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2016. Serving Kansas for more than 135 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Visit www.viachristi.org