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Why 340B Hospitals Need an Outpatient Pharmacy Strategy

There is a shift happening in health care from inpatient-centered care to an emphasis on outpatient care and population health management. Hospitals and health systems are seeking new revenue streams and news ways to a more complete continuum of care. An obvious solution, especially for 340B hospitals, is an outpatient pharmacy.

A huge benefit for having an outpatient pharmacy strategy is to ensure that patients leaving the hospital not only fill their prescriptions, but that they fully understand how to take their medications. Studies have shown that nearly 20 percent of patients never fill their prescriptions. Of the patients that do fill them, only 50 percent take their medications as directed. By not filling prescriptions and not taking them as prescribed, patients are subjected to readmissions and worse clinical outcomes.

Outpatient Pharmacies and 340B

The 340B discount drug program requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations at discounted rates. These discounts are often half of the usual wholesale costs. In turn, the hospital can provide these drugs at lower costs to uninsured, underinsured or low-income patients that need them.

A health system’s outpatient pharmacy may be covered as part of the hospital’s 340B organization, so 340B eligible prescriptions can be dispensed at that location. The prescriptions can be dispensed at a lower cash price than any other pharmacy. In addition, the outpatient pharmacy can provide medications at no charge to many eligible patients. This process ensures quality patient care, timely discharges and patient satisfaction, while helping to mitigate losses.