Harris Health System patients no longer have to drive to their health center to pick up medications thanks to a new service provided by Harris Health’s Pharmacy Department.
“Before, patients had to come to the health center, pull a ticket and wait in line to pick up their prescriptions,” says Shawn Gautreaux, pharmacy operations manager. “We thought if we could deliver medications directly to their homes it would be convenient for patients, improve their taking of medications as prescribed, and at the same time, allow pharmacy staff to focus on clinical duties.”
It took nine months of planning for this innovation to come to fruition. In June 2017, pharmacy kicked off the program at the Baytown and Gulfgate health center pharmacies. Now, all Harris Health patients can have their medications mailed to their home.
To participate, patients must register for a MyHealth account. They can access their account via their personal computer or through the MyHealth app on their phone. Once registered, the patient can sign up through MyHealth to have their medications mailed.
Each patient is required to enter an address and a credit card number to enroll. The credit card pays for the copay — shipping of medications is free.
A patient can request refills and new prescriptions. Once the request is submitted, the prescription is processed at Harris Health’s Central Fill Pharmacy and mailed directly to the patient’s designated address.
Medications arrive at the patient’s home within 24-72 hours after they are ordered.
The service is well under way and pharmacy is taking steps to ensure quality.
“Since we started, we’ve mailed more than 2,000 packages and only three have been returned,” Gautreaux says. “In addition, we have a toll-free number patients can call to speak to our pharmacy staff for consultation or other issues with their prescription. Staff is available Monday through Friday.”
A recent patient survey showed a 92 percent satisfaction rate. The most frequent reason provided for a negative response is that not all medications can be mailed. Medications that require refrigeration and controlled substances cannot be mailed at this time.
While the mail service benefits patients, Gautreaux believes it affords health center pharmacy staff more time to complete other important tasks.
“Instead of spending time counting and handing out prescriptions, our pharmacists and technicians have the opportunity to talk to and help patients with their immediate needs,” he says. “This allows them to focus on clinical duties such as making follow up calls with heart failure patients and completing medication therapy management cases.”
Medication home delivery is poised to provide Harris Health patients with a more positive patient care experience.
“Our patients deserve the best and the Pharmacy Department is working toward providing the best,” Gautreaux says.