DGMC outpatient pharmacy strives for continual improvement

  • Published
  • By Lan Kim
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – On any given day, David Grant USAF Medical Center’s outpatient pharmacy bustles with a constant hum of barcode-scanning beeps, pills rattling in their bottles and storage bins with patients’ prescriptions hitting counters. Those sounds are the outpatient pharmacy staff filling more than 1,000 prescriptions a day, and more than 20,000 prescriptions a month.

As impressive as those numbers are, some consequences and concerns arose with that amount of foot traffic from patients coming through the pharmacy.

Staff Sgt. Krystal Hicks, 60th Medical Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron pharmacy technician and noncommissioned officer in charge of the outpatient pharmacy, brings up patient safety as a primary concern and recalls an incident with an elderly patient.

“When patients would come, they would come in waves,” said Hicks. “There was one lady (who) fell waiting in line to pick up (her prescription). She passed out.”

On that day, the line of customers waiting for their prescriptions extended to the hospital’s entrance.

To address these concerns and find solutions, Capt. Joshua Dalzell, 60th MDTS pharmacy flight commander, held a series of continuous process improvement brain-storming sessions in January with several of his teammates and hospital leadership. The goal of the sessions was identifying ways to serve patients better without sacrificing safety.

“Some of these changes include typing each patient’s prescriptions at the check-in window, adding the prescription drop-box for next day pick-up, eliminating two stations to free up additional staff and adding a phone technician who handles all phone calls and prescription issues,” said Dalzell. “There were other more subtle changes made such as relocating equipment to cut down on foot traffic.”

The most notable change patients can see are the two Q-Flow system electronic kiosks.

“The benefit to Q-Flow is to provide a more organized and patient-friendly approach to the check-in process,” said Dalzell. “With the Q-Flow system, the patients check in at the kiosk and receive a ticket. Once they have a ticket, they are free to take a seat in the lobby and wait for their number to be called.”

Patients are also able to see their wait times on the displays in the lobby and no longer have to endure long lines at the check-in window.

“All the improvements that were made have drastically improved the pharmacy,” said Hicks.

Prior to implementation of CPI changes, processing time from the point of activation averaged 82 minutes, according to Dalzell.

“Now, the processing time sits at approximately 55 minutes, and we hope to continue to see this decrease with upcoming changes,” he said.

Dalzell would eventually like that 55 minutes cut down to an ambitious 30 minutes as more CPI changes are implemented in the future.

In the meantime, the combination of those current changes and the Q-Flow system has provided a more efficient and safe way for the pharmacy to serve the patients of DGMC.