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By Wendy Arevalo
New technology and improved processes help Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center patients spend less time waiting for their prescription.
The pharmacy now has an automated prescription storage system which is helping the pharmacy reduce wait times, according to Melissa Rife, the chief of pharmacy at RWBAHC.
Last year, at this time, wait times were averaging two hours for a new prescription. They’ve now been cut down to 34 minutes.
“We’ve been able to decrease wait times to improve patient satisfaction,” said Rife.
The pharmacy reached its highest patient satisfaction rate in January— it went from 25.5 percent last year to 83.1 percent this year. Patient satisfaction numbers are acquired via random surveys.
The new IntelliCab system, designed by GSL Solutions, Inc., tracks the prescription from the point at which they are first received until they’re given to the patient, according to the GSL Solutions, Inc. website.
When a patient comes to the pharmacy window, the staff member enters the patient’s name and birthdate into the computer. The software then tells them which cabinet has their medication. The staff member goes to that cabinet, swipes their badge and looks for the lighted bin that holds the medication. The patient then signs for their medication.
Prior to this, all medication was put in paper bags, Rife said. When a refill was called in, it would be put in a paper bag, the pharmacist would check it and alphabetize the refill by the patient’s last name. Then, when the patient came to pick up the bag, the pharmacy staff had to sort through all the bags to find a patient’s prescription.
“We do anywhere from 250-350 refills a day,” Rife said. “More than 250 prescriptions a day we were alphabetizing.”
In addition to increasing patient satisfaction by decreased wait times, the system also adds a safety component.
If a pharmacy staff member grabs the wrong medication, the system sounds an alarm.
Pharmacy Technician Vinnie Cannady said he loves the safety and efficiency of the new system.
“This is the first facility I’ve worked at that had these cabinets. Most other places typically had a variation of putting names or stickers on bags and sticking bags on the shelf, and they easily get misplaced,” Cannady said. “Not only does the system locate the meds for you, it serves as security as well because you can’t retrieve them without setting off the alarm or clearing it through the system first.”
Rife said she and her staff are passionate about their patients’ care.
“I empathize with our patients very much and think they deserve the best care possible, she said. “We’re doing everything we can daily to make sure we take care of them.”