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Non-Clinical Topics


Pharmacy

Is It Time to Abandon One-Size-Fits-All Dosing for Antibiotics?

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.

Pharmacy

VA Evaluates Form to Improve Function in Medication Labels

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.

Pharmacy

Better Retention and Outcomes With One Tablet Therapy for HIV Patients

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.

Pharmacy

Demand surges for popular army clinical pharmacy course

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.

Pharmacy

EMR Alert Helps Reduce Opioid/Benzodiazepine Co-Prescribing Risk at VAMCs

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.

Pharmacy

VA Takes the Lead to Prevent Spread of Multi Drug-Resistant Organisms

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).

Pharmacy

Military E-Prescriptions Exceed 50% Goal Set Three Years Ago

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.

Pharmacy

San Diego Revises Alert System in Wake of Administration of Compromised Flu Vaccine

In the fall, failure of a pharmacy refrigerator and its monitoring system resulted in 1,540 veterans and staff receiving potentially ineffective shots.

Pharmacy

Shortage of Supplies Might Have Delayed Medical Procedures at VAMCs

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.

Pharmacy

Army Pharmacy Finds Shorter Hours Reduces Wait Times

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.

Pharmacy

Severe Side Effects Rare in Elderly Veterans Receiving High Dose Influenza Vaccine

Patients over the age of 65 face an increased risk of severe complications and death if they contract influenza.

Pharmacy

Altus AFB Pharmacy Speeds Care With Cold and Flu Packs

The program not only saves time, it also is saving money.

Pharmacy

Mail Order Pharmacy Policies Put Nearly Half of Veterans with HIV at Risk of Missing Doses

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

Pharmacy

Phoenix VA Partners With CVS MinuteClinic to Provide In-Pharmacy Healthcare

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.

Pharmacy

VA Study: CV Risks Lower in Patients Taking NSAID, Misoprostol Combo

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.

Pharmacy

Veterans Choice Program Increases Burden on VA Pharmacists

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.

Pharmacy

Opioid Safety Initiative Drives Down Prescriptions for High-Dose Painkillers

Thanks to a national initiative begun at the VHA in 2013, fewer veterans are receiving prescriptions for risky dosages of opioid painkillers.

Pharmacy

VA Action Stabilizes Prescription Costs for Veterans

Late last month, the VA introduced a tiered pharmacy benefit designed to decrease the cost of outpatient medications for most veterans.

Pharmacy

Army Pharmacy Pilots New Service Model at Four Sites

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.

Pharmacy

Wider Use of Biosimilars Promise Significant Savings for VA

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.

Pharmacy

Refill Synchronization Significantly Improves Adherence Among Some Groups

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.

Pharmacy

Pharmacists Play Big Role in More-Restrictive IHS Opioid Prescribing Rules

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

Pharmacy

VA Clinical Pharmacists Have Broader Scope, Better-Than-Average Pay

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.

Pharmacy

Patients Flip (Ratings) Over Robotic Efficiency at Cherry Point Pharmacy

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.

Pharmacy

Misuse of E-Prescription Notes Delays Pharmacists, Could Harm Patients

HOUSTON — Pharmacists consult the free-text “Notes” field in ambulatory electronic prescriptions (e-prescriptions) for patient and dispensing information that physicians cannot communicate elsewhere.

Pharmacy

Massive VA Point-of-Care Trial Begins to Compare Two Diuretics

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

Pharmacy

Bill Expanding Veteran Access to Immunizations Ignites Controversy

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

Pharmacy

Indian Health Service Counseling Technique Improves Medication Knowledge

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.

Pharmacy

Pharmacist Calls to Cognitively Impaired Veterans Lowers Readmissions

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

Pharmacy

TRICARE Promises Cost Savings for Everyone with RX Shift

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.

Pharmacy

Philadelphia VAMC Pharmacy Focuses More on Customers to Increase Satisfaction

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.

Pharmacy

Veterans Choice Program Eases Process Somewhat for Outside Prescriptions

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

Pharmacy

Long-Acting Insulins Approved by FDA

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

Pharmacy

Team-Based ED Program Halves Inappropriate Prescribing for Older Veterans

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.

Pharmacy

Honored AF Major Promotes Greater Primary Care Role for Pharmacists

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.

Pharmacy

New DHA Screening Process Brings Drug Compounding Costs to 2% of April Levels

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

Pharmacy

Army Polypharmacy Program Posts Outstanding Return on Investment

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

Pharmacy

Preoperative Opioid Use Predicts Post-Surgical Chronic Pain

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

Pharmacy

Legislators Decry Delays in VA/DoD Medical Record Interoperability

WASHINGTON - After years of assurances that the project is on track, the VA and DoD still struggle to make their emergency medical records interoperable

Pharmacy

Military Pharmacies Expand e-Prescribing Option to Civilian Providers

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

Pharmacy

Issue Raised: Should TRICARE Be Replaced by Commercial Insurance?

WASHINGTON - DoD should replace TRICARE with a selection of commercial insurance plans, similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a recent report suggested.

Pharmacy

COPD, Asthma or Both? Navigating Landmines in Correct Diagnosis, Treatment

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

Pharmacy

Pharmacist Role Expanded with Success in Managing Polypharmacy Patients

FALLS CHURCH, VA – The DoD has successfully reversed a trend toward increased use of opioids by engaging pharmacists in oversight and management of polypharmacy patients in Warrior Transition Units.

Pharmacy

New Law Ups Prices of Prescription Drugs for Some DoD Beneficiaries

WASHINGTON - A new law puts into place a $3 increase this year for all prescription copays for non-active duty DoD beneficiaries except for mail order generic drugs, while leaving the question of further increases in future years still in play.

Pharmacy

December 2014 Focus

In this Issue: Focus on HIV-HCV New Treatments Offer More Options, Fewer Side Effects for HIV-Infected Veterans Despite High Costs, VA Makes Sure Veterans Have Access to Newest HCV Drugs Pharmacy Update Partnerships, Drive-Throughs Seek... View Article

Pharmacy

November 2014 Focus

In this Issue: Focus on Oncology Increasing Cancer Treatment Delays Have Plagued VAMCs for Nearly a Decade Male Breast Cancer at the VA Rarer Than the Female Disease, but More Deadly Pharmacy Update Training Program... View Article

Pharmacy

Defense Health Agency: Good First Year, Challenges Ahead

By, USAF, director, Defense Health Agency We just completed a remarkable first year in the Defense Health Agency.  In December, you will all be receiving our first Annual Report on what we have accomplished, and... View Article

Pharmacy

Senate Committee Chairman Decries High Costs for Potential HCV Cure

VA Suggests High Price Could Be Offset Future Savings

Pharmacy

Danger of Pneumonia Increases with Veterans’ Worsened Health Status

Higher Pneumonia Vaccine Rates Urged By Brenda L. Mooney PROVIDENCE, RI – With influenza season each year comes an even greater challenge for VA hospitals — a spate of pneumonia cases in older veterans. Recent... View Article

Pharmacy

Partnerships, Drive-Throughs Seek to Increase Veterans’ Flu Immunization

Free Shots Available at Walgreen’s Locations By Annette M. Boyle SAN FRANCISCO – The VA typically has influenza vaccination rates well above the national average but is trying some innovative measures to do even better. As part of... View Article

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