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Madigan pharmacy wait time drops

Pharmacist Ashley Burrill fills a prescription at the Madigan pharmacy on July 23. Assigning staff to their strongest roles helped to reduce the pharmacy wait time. (U.S. Army photo by Suzanne Ovel) Pharmacist Ashley Burrill fills a prescription at the Madigan pharmacy on July 23. Assigning staff to their strongest roles helped to reduce the pharmacy wait time. (U.S. Army photo by Suzanne Ovel)

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MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. — Pharmacy wait times decreased by more than an hour at Madigan Army Medical Center thanks to extended pharmacy hours, revised staffing and greater expertise in the new electronic health record.

Just a year ago, the average pharmacy wait time was between 90 and 120 minutes; now, the average is 20 to 25 minutes, according to Johnny Hong, the outpatient pharmacist supervisor. He credits opening the pharmacy at 7:30 a.m. each day as some of the catalyst for this improvement.

"That way we're not playing catch up," said Hong. "With opening a half an hour early, that really helps out with the wait times."

Pharmacy leadership also purposely began assigning staff to the roles in which they are the strongest, whether that is working at the pharmacy windows or filling medication.

"As a coach, we have to recognize their talents, strong points, and utilize that," he said.

Hong added that the staff's increased expertise in using MHS GENESIS – the Department of Defense's new unified electronic health record – also helped shorten wait times. Both learning the new system and its new requirement to get pre-authorizations from insurance before filling certain medications contributed to an increase in wait times two years ago.

Certain medication types and quantities require prior-authorization from insurance, such as medications that aren't traditionally covered, said Hong. In these cases, providers need to give a reason why they're prescribing the medications, such as when patients tried multiple other authorized medications which did not work for them.

Patients, too, can help reduce their wait times by using the refill line to give the pharmacy more time to fill these medications.

"If they can call ahead of time, (and) they give us three days to fill it, that will be very helpful," said Hong.

In addition, the pharmacy is hiring more staff this fall, who should be on board to help the increased amount of patients usually seen during the flu season.

Hong attributes the improvements to the wait time to the hard-working pharmacy staff.

"The whole staff is working diligently; I think the whole staff is contributing and doing what we can," he said. "We just want to make people happy. We're here for them."

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