'Q-Flow' System Streamlines Service for NHB Pharmacy Customers

Story Number: NNS130129-02Release Date: 1/29/2013 7:01:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) James Evans Coyle, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton's (NHB) implementation of the Q-Flow system on Jan. 16 is providing a more convenient and organized prescription distribution process for both the patients and the staff at the busy Pharmacy.

Assistant Hospital Pharmacy Department Head, Lt. Heather Rosati explained that the computer web-based software system enables Pharmacy staff to collect more data on such important issues like wait times, possible deviation of prescription levels, and effective monitoring for the implementation of needed staff members. The new Q-Flow also tracks the increased number of people waiting to get their prescriptions.

"The old system really had to go," said Rosati. "It was from the 1990s and there was no information available with what it provided."

The new Q-Flow system adheres to Navy Medicine's priorities of providing patient-centered health care and best value by helping to optimize NHB's use of medical informatics and technology to ensure the highest quality of care for patients.

According to NHB Director for Clinical Support Services, Cmdr. David W. Hardy, the biggest initial adjustment for people will be getting used to where the new Q-Flow kiosk is physically located in the Pharmacy. It is now situated closer to where beneficiaries enter from the Quarterdeck into the main Pharmacy area. The new kiosk is located opposite the patient service windows, next to a column by the exterior windows.

"For people who've been coming here for ten years or more and maybe they only get prescriptions here once a month, those people will have it in their mindset to walk where they always have walked to get a ticket to get in line. The whole process of getting their prescription now starts away from the counter. This gives the Pharmacy an overall better traffic flow for the people," said Hardy.

In addition, Hardy noted certain days of the week - such as a day before or after a long weekend - can traditionally be busier than others, and during the winter months the Pharmacy can handle more than 2,000 prescriptions per day.

"A big benefit with the arrival of the Q-Flow to the hospital will be a system that can help identify the needs of our Pharmacy," said Hardy. "We can look at all of the numbers, times of the day, days of the week, and know that we'll either need more staff or be more prepared to shift around the staff we currently have to handle the increased number of Pharmacy customers," said Hardy.

Rosati noted the old method of filling a standard prescription was ultimately very limited and the Q-Flow system now provides more information is enabling staff members to gain momentum as the Pharmacy engages with more patients.

"Any patient or staff member looking for a prescription would get a number and wait to see someone at a window. Their number would be called and the Pharmacy Tech would look their prescription up by name. They were then told to wait for their name to appear on an overhead screen. The Q-Flow system tells us what time they came in, what the prescription is, and how many people are waiting in the 'queue.' The new system can even be broken down to the point of active duty, civilian and the prescriptions that have been entered from different departments of the hospital, like Emergency or Family Medicine," said Rosati.

Lt. Hanh Tang, Hospital Pharmacy Department Head, added that the information on the actual ticket of the Q-Flow system now given out to the customer is a reassuring professional improvement on the old method.

"The ticket tells you how many people are in front of you and the hours the Pharmacy is open. If you had to leave for some reason you can quickly scan your ticket and the system will tell you the status of your prescription," said Tang.

The noted new kiosk is noted by a "Pharmacy Check-in" sign mounted above. It may take our Patients and staff some time to get familiar to the new location and the new system.

Tang attests that the check-in screen for the kiosk was redesigned to better serve Pharmacy patients and staff, and everyone utilizing the new system should carefully read all available options when they check in for pharmacy services. The services options are for Retiree; Dependent; Active Duty Not in Uniform; Active Duty in Uniform; Staff Member on Duty; NHB Emergency Room Prescription(s); Discharged from NHB Inpatient Stay or Post Surgery and/or Operation.

Pharmacy has also implemented a 2-ticket system to streamline the workflow and give patients the ability to check status of their prescription(s) at the check-in kiosk.

As with any new way of doing things, Hospitalman Christopher Bennett said he's noticed patients acclimating themselves to the new Q-Flow system at NHB with relative ease.

"It's been a little bit of an adjustment period. I'm sure that people who haven't been here in a while will notice the new way we do things and it will maybe hit them as they're leaving and they will think, 'That somehow went quicker than I'm used to,'" said Bennett.

Additionally, for those who chose not to visit the command to pick up their medicine, there are cost-saving options available to all beneficiaries for pharmacy prescription drugs.

In conjunction with TRICARE home delivery, NHB Pharmacy offers two economical alternatives for beneficiaries. Pharmacy refills are free (for beneficiaries) with no co-pay requirements. Home deliveries for generic prescription drugs are also free to beneficiaries.

New copayments for prescription drugs covered by TRICARE will go into effect February 1, 2013. The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act requires TRICARE to increase copays on brand name and non-formulary medications that are not filled at military clinics or hospitals. There is no increase to copays for generic medications.

TRICARE Pharmacy copays vary based on the class of drug and where beneficiaries choose to fill their prescriptions. The copay for generic medications stays at $5 when a prescription is filled at a network pharmacy. There is no co-pay when generic prescriptions are filled through TRICARE Home Delivery. The new copay for a 30-day supply of a brand name medication purchased at a retail network pharmacy will be $17, up from the current $12. Beneficiaries using TRICARE Home Delivery will pay $13 for brand name drugs, up from $9. However, the Home Delivery price is for a 90-day supply.

The greatest change in copays applies to non-formulary medications. The $25 copay for these drugs increases to $44 at retail pharmacies and $43 through Home Delivery. The TRICARE Uniform Formulary is a list of all the medications TRICARE covers.

For more information: http://www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices/BenefitUpdates/Archives/PharmacyCopayChanges.aspx.

For fiscal 2014 and beyond, the new law directs that copays increase annually by the same percentage as retiree cost-of-living adjustments. In years when a COLA increase would total less than a dollar, it will be delayed a year and combined with the next adjustment so increases will always be $1 or more.

Pharmacies at military hospitals and clinics will continue to provide medications with no copays. Visit www.TRICARE.mil/pharmacycosts for more details.

Home Delivery offers convenient and free automatic prescription refills that can be shipped to any address in the U.S. or Fleet and Army Post Offices overseas. To sign up for home delivery for your pharmacy refills, click here: www.tricare.mil/homedelivery or dial 877-782-8731.

For more news from Naval Hospital Bremerton, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhb/.

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