1. Look for alternatives
Sometimes, hospitals can use alternatives to costlier medications. For example, the Cleveland Clinic initially was not going to use the antihypertensive medication clevidipine due to its high price, opting instead to use nitroprusside. However, when prices for nitroprusside jumped—increasing by 800%—the hospital system found that clevidipine was a more cost-effective alternative. The Cleveland Clinic, which has been the nation’s top hospital for heart care for more than two decades, uses a lot of nitroprusside, Knoer says, and continued use of it without having an alternative to switch to could have cost the hospital upwards of $8 million for the year.
“We look at other cost-effective options,” Knoer says. “Other medications that might be cost prohibitive before are cost effective now.”
Generics, of course, are another option for alternatives, says Katherine Hempstead, PhD, senior advisor to the executive vice president and a healthcare pricing expert at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Generics can offer huge cost savings over brand-name medications. Hospitals should also constantly review their contracts with suppliers to make sure they are getting the best price on generics, too, she adds.