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Moody pharmacy team makes AFSO 21 improvements

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- The 23rd Medical Group's pharmacy is currently implementing a series of changes to improve customer service and satisfaction.

The changes are a direct result of the group's first Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century Rapid Improvement Event.

The first change revises the pharmacy hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, said Lt. Col. Herbert Scott, the 23rd Medical Support Squadron commander. Prescription pick-ups are only being offered between 4:30 to 5 p.m., and no new prescriptions will be taken at that time.

Also, there are new options for picking up prescriptions. The patient may choose to wait for the prescription, return within two to four hours, return at the end of the day between 4 and 5 p.m., or return at anytime the following business day.

"The option to pick up (prescriptions) during the next business day can easily save wait times at the main pharmacy," said Colonel Scott.

The 23rd MDG implemented this change as a result of the AFSO 21 RIE recommendations. The event's main challenge was for the medical team to reduce the wait time for medications for post-surgery dental patients or their escorts, said Master Sgt. Katherine Mathew, NCO in charge of the dental services.

"We wanted to increase the quality of care to our patients, while also improving customer satisfaction with effective pain management," said Sergeant Mathew, who was the event team leader.

The wait time was previously one to 1.5 hours for a prescription, which lead to the person experiencing unnecessary pain, said Sergeant Mathew. The process was time consuming because the doctors didn't put in the prescriptions until after they saw the patient.

"Our goal was to get the pain medications to the patient prior to the anesthesia wearing off to effectively manage the pain," she continued. "Now, the (dental surgery) providers are going to turn in all their prescriptions each morning."

The pharmacy then fills these prescriptions in the morning, so the patient or escort can pick them up right after the surgery. This allows the pharmacy to focus on getting the dental prescriptions filled, so the rest of the day can be devoted to filling other prescriptions.

Filling a prescription, however, is not just putting pills into a bottle, said Master Sgt. Charles Repass, NCO in charge of pharmacy services.

"Many prescriptions have problems (including if) the patient is allergic to a certain drug class, there's an interaction with another drug, or the doctor didn't complete the prescription," he said. "All these problems must be cleared from the doctor's office, which means someone must stop what they are doing to call.

"We fill (between) 800 to 1,100 prescriptions per day depending on the time of the year," Sergeant Repass continued. "On top of all that, each prescription must be typed, filled and checked by a different person at each step for accuracy."

Beginning in January, another set of changes will require all patients with new prescriptions to check-in at the main window to "activate" their prescriptions, said Colonel Scott.

"The process to fill and dispense these prescriptions will not begin until the patient checks in at the window," he said.

The final change will be implemented sometime in early 2007 and will affect all patient refills. The only option available to refill a prescription will be the phone-in refill system.

"This change will allow the main pharmacy staff to focus on establishing and filling new prescriptions," said Colonel Scott. "When ordered via the telephone system, non-controlled medications will be ready for pick up at the (base exchange) pharmacy.

"If the refill request contains both controlled and non-controlled medications, the refills will be available for a one-stop pick up at the main pharmacy," he continued. "These changes are designed to reduce wait times and provide better pharmacy service."

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