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Changes sparked improvements for our patients

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE Fla. -- Process improvements are a large part of the 45th Medical Group's culture. In 2007 we invested time and resources that produced initiatives benefiting our patients and employees. Every element has something to be proud of, but there were a few projects particularly noteworthy.

One initiative dealing with prescriptions has been recognized during two international medical conventions. We care for many people with diseases requiring medication to control the condition. Historically, some patients would call saying they were out or almost out of their prescription. Filling one prescription on the spot wasn't easy; a desire to provide holistic quality health care took the problem to a whole new level.

An integrated team of doctors, nurses, administrators and pharmacy personnel worked for months on the solution. Patients' entire health history is now reviewed with the patient face to face by a nurse. All health elements are screened and discussed, not just the medication requested. When indicated, laboratory tests and health education are provided and an appointment is then made with the patient's primary care provider (PCM). The patient is also given a small amount of their prescription to allow for the completion of tests prior to their appointment. Now patients and their PCMs can discuss a total plan of health care. The process adds quality while saving possible subsequent appointments and the phone tag which historically took place - a definite win/win for patients and staff.

Another success has been our active duty priority time. We wanted to make sure our warriors had easy and timely access to our services. The fix was "sick call" with a twist - active duty personnel don't have to be sick to use the easy walk-in clinic starting at 7:15 a.m. each duty day. No phone waits and great access has made this improvement very popular.

Big changes have also occurred in our radiology department with the conversion to digital technology. This upgrade makes it easy to analyze, store and transmit results. In the coming year we will add digital mammography. This state-of-the-art capability will keep us in pace with the community and offer our patients even better care.

Other improvements involved adding a larger, more robust physical therapy department, a convenient referral center, pharmacy robotics for the main clinic and implementing wireless technology throughout the group.

New ideas to better serve our patients are nothing new at the 45th Medical Group. 2008 looks to be another banner year!