Most Base Pharmacies Now Accepting Electronic Prescriptions

Capt. Christine Cox, 21st Medical Squadron pharmacist and support flight commander, reviews her notes at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)
Capt. Christine Cox, 21st Medical Squadron pharmacist and support flight commander, reviews her notes at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

A new Tricare pharmacy program allows doctors outside on-base clinics and treatment centers to send prescriptions electronically to military pharmacies. 

In the past, Tricare users who were seen off-base could either hand carry paper prescriptions to a military pharmacy and get their drugs for free, or have them sent to a civilian pharmacy where they would pay a fee dependent on the type of drug they were receiving.

The new system, which rolled out to almost all military treatment facilities (MTFs) late last year, brings Tricare in line with the prescription process that has become the norm for off-base doctors said Henry Gibbs, branch chief of the Defense Health Agency's Pharmacy Informatics Integration. It also reduces the possibility of a pharmacy tech misreading the prescription and handing out the wrong drug or dosage, he said.

"There are some things that drove us to say 'this is the right thing to do and we need to move in alignment with industry.' To me, electronic prescribing is really becoming the standard of care," he said. "If you look at electronic prescribing it enhances patient safety [and] it helps reduce transcription errors associated with hard copies." 

The program was first piloted at Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington, in March of last year, Gibbs said. It was expanded to additional MTFs starting in September. Now over 150 MTFs have the program, with about 10 still working through implementation, he said.

Putting the program in place required a software upgrade to the MTF's pharmacy system, as well as some employee training. Military pharmacies have filled over 75,000 electronically submitted prescriptions as of Jan. 12, he said.

The system cannot be used to fill prescriptions containing controlled substances, Tricare officials said. That means those who want to use the on-base pharmacy to receive drugs that contain codeine, for example, will still need to hand deliver their prescriptions.

The program is open to all Tricare beneficiaries whose off-base doctors want to submit prescriptions electronically, Gibbs said. Users should check with their local MTF to make sure they are part of the program.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at Amy.Bushatz@military.com.

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