By Annette M. Boyle
HINESVILLE, GA—Four Army pharmacy sites have taken the lead in shifting the patient experience from a transactional paradigm to a service-oriented model the Army hopes to replicate across all facilities.
Each center—Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart, GA; Munson Army Health Center, Fort Leavenworth, KS; Ireland Army Health Clinic at Fort Knox, KY; and William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Fort Bliss, TX—has followed a slightly different path but achieved similar, largely positive results.
Changes in the healthcare landscape have largely driven the new approach. “Our patients expect safe, high-quality care, and the organizations we serve expect us to be accountable for the outcomes of our patients,” said Ryan C. Costantino, PharmD, deputy chief of pharmacy at Winn Army Hospital. “It’s no longer good enough to simply dispense a medication to a patient. In order to improve patient loyalty and prevent negative outcomes, we have had to be proactive in detecting and preventing errors as well as building our relationship with patients so they trust us in the delivery of their care.”
At Winn, the safety aspects of prescription dispensing has been enhanced by the Parata and ScriptPro Systems, which help ensure each patient receives the right medication every time, he said. The robotic systems standardize and automate much of the traditional counting, matching and verification process.
The adoption of standardized processes has also helped improve the human interactions in the pharmacy. “Previously, your experience at a pharmacy would depend on which staff member was assisting you. Now, every patient should have the same experience,” Costantino told U.S. Medicine.
Training for all staff emphasized a six-step process that includes greeting patients, verifying their identity, inquiring about allergies, asking if they have any issues with their medications and determining whether any medications are new for the patient. In addition, “we strive to perform a show-and-tell for all new medications, placing specific emphasis on medications that are difficult to use, like inhalers or injectable diabetes medications,” he noted.
So far, patient response has been very positive, with satisfaction scorers rising 10 points despite increased wait times caused by renovations. “You would think our satisfaction scores would trend down; however, we have found that patients rarely remember their exact wait time or experience, but they always remember how you make them feel. If we can continue the emphasis on making the patient feel welcomed, valued and that we care about their health, I have no doubt these measures will continue to improve,” Costantino said.
To continue on the path of greater customer focus and increased efficiency, the pharmacists at Winn are evaluating the appointment-based model, a patient care service designed to improve patients’ adherence to medications and increase pharmacy efficiency by synchronizing refills for chronic medicines and confirming the patient receives the correct medications each month, he added.