Omnicell is extending the power of automated medicine

Hospitals and all sorts of other healthcare providers around the country are consolidating like crazy.  And it’s not just regional organizations like UPMC.  Right now, for example, Walmart wants to acquire Humana.  CVS wants to buy Aetna.  And Amazon is poised to do something big in the pharmacy arena that will almost certainly shake up the experience and delivery of healthcare. 

 For America’s healthcare providers, what’s behind that consolidation are economies of scale.  Spreading an organization’s overhead expenses across more units helps to mitigate the already intense cost pressures on the industry.  Something similar also applies to their suppliers who, in addition to minimizing overhead, want to furnish their shrinking base of giant healthcare customers with a comprehensive array of products.  

Chain of succession
Long-time residents may recall Automated Healthcare, a company in Cranberry Woods during the ‘90s, which made robots for hospital pharmacies.  In 1996, it was acquired by McKesson and renamed McKesson Automation.  Seven years later, it was spun off and became known as Aesynt.  And in 2016, it was bought by a California company named Omnicell which had similar business interests.  

But while Automated Healthcare’s products were focused on assembling packets of pills in hospital pharmacies, Omnicell has taken that capability and added it to the company’s already robust portfolio of medical products – products that span the continuum of care from retail drugstores, to nursing homes, to distributed dispensaries as well as to centralized hospital pharmacies.  And now, the company is applying its technology chops to the task of compounding individualized patient medications and moving them step by step through to intravenous delivery.  That initiative, called IV Automation, is still at an early stage, but it’s a potential blockbuster.

Here’s how company Vice President Douglas Descalzi, the leader of Omnicell’s twin sites in Cranberry Woods and Thorn Hill Industrial Park, describes it.  “What we’re trying to do is bring that technology into mainstream,” he said.  “It’s sort of a startup company that we’re trying to place services around.  We’re trying to add data.  We’re trying to provide better support models.  We’re trying to make it more scalable.  And now we’re starting to see traction.  

“As hospitals look for ways to save money, to be safer, to make therapy more effective, and to be more compliant with rules, we believe our technology can accomplish all of that,” he said.  “It’s a win across all four dimensions – safety, therapy, cost and compliance.  If you achieve all those things and convince the provider that this is what technology can do for you and that we’re a worthy partner, it almost turns into a no-brainer.” 

The Cranberry connection
If it hadn’t been for its acquisition of Aesynt, Omnicell – which is based in Silicon Valley – might never have discovered Cranberry, according to Descalzi, himself a Pittsburgh native.  But with the area’s available space, lower costs, technology talent and rich history of automation, Cranberry became a great opportunity for the company.  Today, Cranberry is Omnicell’s largest site, housing 500 employees and has the capacity to add a considerable number of new employees. Descalzi believes the future is very positive for Omnicell here in Cranberry. 

Douglas Descalzi