In 2009, President Obama introduced the Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Award to encourage Federal employees to submit ideas to help the government save costs and be more effective.
This year, VA has its own nominee in the top four. Kenneth Siehr, national director for VHA’s Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy, works at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, in Milwaukee. Siehr’s recommendation that VHA provide a self-service prescription medication tracking option on the online MyHealtheVet portal was selected as a finalist for the 2013 SAVE Award. Siehr’s proposal would allow Veterans who are registered with the site to then log on to check the status of their mailed medications to determine when they can expect to receive them.
The majority of outpatient prescriptions from VA to patients are sent via mail. Currently, VA patients must call their local VA medical center directly and wait for a representative to look up their order and connect them to the carrier responsible for delivering their shipment.
Enabling the proposed self-service option on MyHealtheVet would not only help to cut costs by saving valuable time for pharmacy personnel, but would reduce the call volume currently experienced by Veterans and provide them with the same convenient type of access already enjoyed by patients in the private sector.
“It’s going to really be a timesaving initiative for each of the medical centers, [especially] with pharmacy [personnel] costs,” said Rick Purko, chief of pharmacy for Clement J. Zablocki VAMC.
Right now, Purko said, Veterans with access to MyHealtheVet can view their medication profile and request refills through the portal, but they cannot track the status of their prescriptions.
By implementing this function on MyHealtheVet, Veterans will be able to do this for themselves and not have to call in to the medical centers and wait on hold. This will free up the time of pharmacy staff members and increase the quality of care to patients with critical questions on how to use their medications.
“This is so that the medical centers don’t get this workload put back on them,” said Purko.
According to Purko, if Siehr’s idea is voted the top idea, the money awarded through the president’s SAVE initiative would allow VA’s programmers to change the software to include the self-service function.
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