Sterling Fowler has been coming to VA for his healthcare since 1991 and he knows his way around the bustling VA North Texas’ Dallas campus from the many outpatient clinics to the pharmacy where he is a frequent customer.
“The pharmacy here is quicker than when I go to CVS,” said Fowler, a U.S. Army Veteran. “I come in, check in at the kiosk and wait to be called. It’s easy.”
While it may look easy, creating and maintain a productive and convenient patient experience is of paramount importance to the 150 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians tasked to handle the VA North Texas’ system-wide pharmacy operation that includes outpatient, inpatient, spinal cord injury and community living center activities, respectively, in Dallas, Fort Worth and Bonham.
VA fills some 143,000,000 Veteran prescriptions per year, or about 4-percent of all prescriptions processed each year in the U.S. The VA North Texas Pharmacy Service typically processes over 225,000 prescriptions each month. To put these numbers in perspective, the average local pharmacy chain fills about 8,000 prescriptions per month.
“To help with our heavy workload and greatly enhance our automation, we utilize a pharmacy root called Optifill that can quick fill medications in seconds,” said Arohi Desai, PharmD, outpatient pharmacy manager. “This tool allows us to get our patients their regular medications must faster and reduce any wait times during our busiest hours of operation.”
Pharmacy professionals are no longer just simply dispensing medication at customer service windows. VA pharmacists are also providing important health care services through innovative programs and services across practice settings as many Veterans choose to skip a 20-minute wait and request their prescriptions and refills online at the My HealtheVet website via automatic orders processing through a Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP). VA has seven CMOPs nationally that provide 80-percent of our actual prescription filling via an electronic order processed locally by a pharmacist.
VA North Texas pharmacy professionals strive for quality patient interactions–an essential component of medication adherence and creating an experience that the patient is unlikely to get in the community.
“Our Veterans have done so much for our country and we have a unique responsibility to them,” said Anquan Brown, PharmD and chief of Pharmacy Service. “They deserve this care and we are committed to honoring their service by providing them the best care and treatment possible.”
About the Author: Jennifer Roy is a public affairs specialist for VA North Texas Health Care System. She is a retired USN Chief Petty Officer, public affairs manager and award-winning photojournalist.