‘Trusted care’: Academy pharmacy saves millions in tax dollars


Saving the Defense Department more than $17 million in two years is no small feat, but the 10th Medical Group did just that by improving its processes.      


Lt. Col. Crystal Price, flight commander for the 10th Medical Support Squadron’s pharmacy, said the savings represent the quality of the pharmacy staff’s dedication to customer service.


“It’s fantastic we’ve been able to recoup and save this money, but that result has been the frosting on the cake,” she said. “At the end of the day, this is really about providing trusted care for our customers.”


A 2004 initiative established the pharmacy at the Air Force Academy as the joint refill center formulary for the Colorado Springs Military Health System, streamlining operations in the consolidated market region. Today, the pharmacy is the first and only DOD-joint formulary, serving the Academy, Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base.   


Operating costs in the military healthcare system have risen significantly as patients, especially those with referrals, increasingly use retail pharmacies. These expenses spurred staff at the 10th MDG, Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital and Peterson’s 21st Medical Group, to consolidate their resources to cut and recoup costs. 


The joint team established an enhanced initiative in May 2015 to further streamline operating performance and define “best practices” for the rest of the military medical network.


Maj. Rick Smith, chief of the 10th MDSS pharmacy operations, said costs were reduced from $44.3 million to $27.1 million, a 39-percent decrease, in less than two years.

“Our goal is to recapture prescriptions being filled by retail pharmacies and bring patients back to our [military] pharmacy,” he said. “I think we’re succeeding.”


· The average cost of prescriptions was cut by improved contract compliance and converting from brand name to generic medication

· Potential patient drug interactions and therapy duplications were caught and corrected more frequently

· The new system increased the clinical staff's efficiency and cut patient wait times

· Ordering and processing non-formulary medications decreased from seven days to same day or next day delivery while cutting patient and government cost

· More improvements were made in inventory management and medication safety oversight and business operations 

· Pharmacy staff is conducting an ongoing telephone campaign to encourage patients to use the refill center pharmacy, or a Tricare mail order pharmacy, instead of a retail pharmacy 


The 10th MDSS Pharmacy and their team members from Fort Carson and Peterson won first place for their presentation, “Bridging the Services: A Joint Foundation for the Novel Approach to a Successful Refill Center,” at the Joint Federal Pharmacy Seminar in October.  The seminar is an annual event to enhance clinical and patient care services. 


The consolidated team also received the Army Medical Commander’s Wolfpack Award, Feb. 27 at Fort Carson. This is the second time the team won the award.

According to the Wolfpack Award documentation, winning teams demonstrate excellence and effective teamwork resulting in significant products or services with the potential for broad impact in support of Army Medicine.