Federal watchdog suggests increased oversight for VA's pharmacy inventory management

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers' pharmacy inventories would benefit from increased oversight, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers' pharmacy inventories would benefit from increased oversight, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report said inefficiencies have been created due to the decentralized nature of the Veterans Affairs (VA) organization, where medical centers use various methods of procuring or tracking their inventory. PBMs have said the lack of a VA-wide pharmacy inventory management system limits their ability to assist in inventory management. GAO advised that the VA designate a focal point for overseeing its medical center's pharmacy inventory management efforts systemwide. The VA in December announced it would contract with Cerner to overhaul its legacy VistA EHR system. Last year, the GAO cited problems with the health system's pharmacy IT platform, in particular when communicating with private sector providers; this was largely blamed on VistA. Pharmacists are not always able to view patient records from the Department of Defense, making it difficult to check new prescriptions with current medications, a GAO report noted. Certain hospitals, such as the VA Medical Center in Washington, DC, also had difficulty with accurate inventory management of their broader supply chain, including supplies used in surgery and at the bedside, an investigation by the VA's Office of Inspector General found.