FALLS CHURCH, VA—In June 2018, Defense Health Agency Director Raquel Bono, MD, directed all MHS pharmacies to dispense the opioid reversal agent naloxone to eligible beneficiaries and those who request it without requiring a prescription.... View Article
CHICAGO—The pace of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of oral anticancer medications has rapidly increased, from less than one a year at the turn of the century to 10 in 2018. While patients generally... View Article
WASHINGTON—Ivan Cephas, PharmD, the acting chief of pharmacy at the DCVAMC, would be the first to say that what he does is not above and beyond the call of duty. Despite having been awarded the... View Article
More than a dozen military treatment facility pharmacies have implemented a pilot customer service system that gives patients greater control over how they spend their time while waiting for prescriptions to be filled.
Venous thromboembolism, which includes deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, is the most common preventable cause of hospital death, according to the VA.
Using multiple sources to get prescribed pain medications and other Schedule II through V drugs increases risks for veterans, a new study finds.
Three VAMCs that formed a collaborative group to optimize use of a shared clinical surveillance system saved more than $2.3 million in two years.
A tool developed by the VA has raised the profile of pharmacists as critical members of patient care teams at the VA, leading to a doubling of the number of pharmacists serving as providers.
Increased obesity among veterans and the general population might be leading to more hospitalizations for infections and greater instance of failed treatment in patients who have been hospitalized.
When time is of the essence, good design saves lives. That was the lesson of a recent experiment in Pittsburgh that tested whether anesthetist trainees would grab the right medication in a stressful simulated operating room scenario or make a potentially fatal mistake.
Patients taking a single tablet to control HIV had better viral suppression and stayed in care at higher rates than patients who took multiple pills.
With pharmacists from across the DoD and VA clamoring for spots in the Clinical Pharmacy Course at Army Medical Department Center and School (AMEDDCS) in Fort Sam Houston, TX, organizers offered back-to-back programs this spring, with another scheduled for August.
Since the launch of the Opioid Safety Initiative in 2012, the VA has implemented a number of steps designed to reduce the use of opioids and the risk of addiction and overdose among veterans.
The VA is leveraging its position as the country’s largest integrated healthcare system to slow the development and spread of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO).
FALLS CHURCH, VA — As of January 2018, 54% of prescriptions filled by MTFs were submitted electronically, exceeding the initial goal of 50% set when the e-prescribing program first rolled out three years ago.
In the fall, failure of a pharmacy refrigerator and its monitoring system resulted in 1,540 veterans and staff receiving potentially ineffective shots.
In response to complaints that clinicians at VAMCs lack adequate medical and surgical products to care for veterans, VA conceded it needs to make its product formulary more robust.
The pharmacy team at McDonald Army Health Center (MCAHC) on Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia had a common problem—longer than desired wait times for patients to pick up prescriptions.
Patients over the age of 65 face an increased risk of severe complications and death if they contract influenza.
The program not only saves time, it also is saving money.
By Annette M. Boyle MADISON, WI—Antiretroviral medications have transformed HIV from a death sentence into a chronic disease, but the drugs’ effectiveness depends on rigorous adherence to sometimes-complex regimens. For veterans with HIV, adherence is... View Article
When CVS Health became an authorized provider under the Veterans Choice Program, several VAMCs considered using the company’s retail medical clinic, MinuteClinic, to help relieve long waits and offer routine medical services nearer to veterans’ homes.
Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular issues, but a new study offers a possible way to mitigate that factor.
The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act in 2014 allows veterans to receive covered care and prescriptions from non-VA providers in a variety of situations.
Thanks to a national initiative begun at the VHA in 2013, fewer veterans are receiving prescriptions for risky dosages of opioid painkillers.
Late last month, the VA introduced a tiered pharmacy benefit designed to decrease the cost of outpatient medications for most veterans.
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.
Even as biologics offer new options for patients suffering from a wide range of diseases today, their steep prices pose a significant challenge to healthcare system budgets.
As every pharmacist and physician knows, medications only work if patients take them as prescribed—and increasing consistent adherence remains one of the biggest challenges in medicine.
By Annette M. Boyle ROCKVILLE, MD—This summer, the Indian Health Service (IHS) instituted new rules for pharmacists and providers designed to reduce abuse and overuse of opioids, making it one of the first agencies to... View Article
According to job site Glassdoor, clinical pharmacists in the U.S. make about $113,000 on average. At the VA, they do a little better, averaging nearly $115,000, based on salaries reported to the site.
CHERRY POINT, NC—Prior to a renovation late last year, patients at Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point’s pharmacy left negative feedback twice as often as positive. Installation of a robotic pharmacy system reversed those numbers, however. Today, two-thirds of comments are upbeat.
HOUSTON — Pharmacists consult the free-text “Notes” field in ambulatory electronic prescriptions (e-prescriptions) for patient and dispensing information that physicians cannot communicate elsewhere.
Study Using Primary Care Providers Touted As Much More Cost-EffectiveBy Annette M. BoyleMINNEAPOLIS — Pioneering use of “point of care” research in a new study at the VA might finally answer the question of whether... View Article
Pharmacists Take a Lead Role in Increasing Vaccination RatesBy Annette M. BoyleWASHINGTON — An effort in the U.S. Senate to ensure that veterans have access to all recommended immunizations was about as routine as legislation... View Article
An extra minute of patient interaction using the Indian Health Service (IHS) technique more than doubles the likelihood that patients will remember and understand what their new prescription treats, how to take the medication and its possible side effects.
By Annette M. BoyleBOSTON — For many older veterans, the transition from hospital to home can create confusion about which medications to take when. For veterans with cognitive impairment, the challenge increases — and so... View Article
It’s a case of bad news-good news: TRICARE beneficiaries, as of Oct. 1, have fewer options for getting certain prescriptions filled, but their costs are lower.
When outpatient pharmacy customer satisfaction scores plunged below 40% on a recent survey, pharmacists in Philadelphia responded with several quality-improvement initiatives and were rewarded with significantly improved ratings.
By Annette M. BoyleWASHINGTON — Veterans who receive care through the Veterans Choice Program may not have many choices when it comes to prescriptions from those outside providers, but they do have more than those... View Article
PLAINSBORO, NJ – Physicians treating diabetes patients have new weapons in their arsenal.The Food and Drug Administration recently approved Tresiba (insulin degludec injection) and Ryzodeg 70/30 (insulin degludec/insulin aspart injection) to improve glucose control in... View Article
In the bustle of a hectic VAMC emergency department, do healthcare providers always remember which common medications are often problematic for older veterans? Usually not.
In 2012, pharmacists at Hill Air Force Base had 84 direct patient-to-pharmacist clinical interactions a year. Today there are 9,600 patient interactions.
DHA Pharmacy Chief Says “Nefarious Actors” Targeted BeneficiariesBy Annette M. BoyleWASHINGTON — In April, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) spent $18 million a day in compound drug claims. By July, the daily costs had dropped... View Article
Clinical Pharmacists Help Optimize Medication UseBy Annette M. BoyleHONOLULU — A pilot program at Tripler Army Medical Center that manages patients taking multiple drugs appears poised to post a financial return on investment of 5:1.... View Article
SEATTLE – The most important predictor of chronic postoperative pain after elective knee arthroscopy is preoperative opioid use, according to a single-center retrospective study. Background information in the study, published recently in the journal Anesthesia... View Article
WASHINGTON - After years of assurances that the project is on track, the VA and DoD still struggle to make their emergency medical records interoperable
By Annette M. Boyle FALLS CHURCH, VA – A recent expansion of e-prescribing at all military treatment facility (MTF) pharmacies brings them in line with their civilian counterparts by allowing them to accept electronic prescriptions... View Article
WASHINGTON - DoD should replace TRICARE with a selection of commercial insurance plans, similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a recent report suggested.
By Annette M. Boyle CHICAGO – Your patient presents with wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Is it asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or both? The diagnosis and decision about treatment are not so... View Article
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