The 340B Drug Pricing Program is a federal program that allows certain types of hospitals and clinics to purchase drugs at a discounted price. The program was created in 1992 to help covered entities stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.
The intent of the program is for these savings to fund services, expand access and improve care. While 340B grantees are required to document where the savings are utilized, 340B hospitals are not. This lack of transparency has generated scrutiny on how hospitals are using these savings, with some suggesting they are being applied to the balance sheet rather than reinvested.
Here are a several ways hospitals can demonstrate that they are using their 340B savings to support their patients and communities:
- Sharing innovative delivery of healthcare services: Many health systems have deployed innovative strategies to increase access and improve quality of care for vulnerable populations where transportation is an obstacle. For example, utilizing mobile buses for preventative care checkups or digital platforms such as telehealth to expand reach.
- Supporting community clinics: Hospitals extend their reach beyond just their IDN so share how your organization is supporting community clinics and other healthcare providers that serve low-income and underserved populations. This can include funding for equipment, supplies and staffing.
- Expanding patient assistance: Most providers are offering patient financial assistance in some capacity. However, there are ways to better optimize patient assistance programs, such as prescription drug assistance programs, transportation assistance and financial assistance for medical expenses. These programs reduce barriers to care and improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations.
- Expanding tech stack for efficiency: Staffing shortages are prevalent across the healthcare industry and automating traditional manual tasks is now essential. By investing more in your tech stack, your organization can improve efficiency, care, and enhance the patient experience. For example, patient assistance technology can automatically screen for eligible patients, identify programs and streamline enrollment rather than manually searching for patients and programs, and complete tedious enrollment applications.
- Supporting research and education: Supporting research and education related to healthcare and public health is always important to every provider. This includes developing community health education programs, disease-specific support groups and healthcare workforce training programs.
Overall, hospitals participating in the 340B program have a responsibility to use their 340B savings to expand access and improve care. By sharing more about what your hospital and health system are doing for your community and vulnerable populations, you can avoid the unnecessary scrutiny surrounding 340B savings. These transparent initiatives and programs enable hospitals to improve their reputation and make a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of their communities.