New prescription activation method available to clinic beneficiaries

An additional activation method, via the Tricare online patient portal, is making it easier for beneficiaries of Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River to activate their new prescriptions, not just refills.

“Patients with a Tricare online account could already send secure messages to providers and request prescription refills,” said Supervisory Pharmacist Dr. Leslie Jago, with Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River, “but now, with this new feature, patients can activate a new prescription entered by any Military Treatment Facility (MTF) provider.”

This new feature has been piloted elsewhere for the past year, but was recently implemented locally, giving patients another option to tell the clinic pharmacy what medicines need to be started.

“This is not for patients who are getting new prescriptions through civilian providers, but if people go to any MTF in the region, and their provider enters a new prescription into the electronic ordering system, patients can now activate it through their patient portal at www.tricareonline.com,” Jago noted. ““It will also show patients what their medicines are; what’s due, and what hasn’t been filled yet.”

That action then generates a printout at the pharmacy noting whatever phone number the patient has in the clinic’s system through DEERS.

“A new patient notification system is another feature our pharmacy has now, where a patient can opt for a phone call or text message,” Jago added. “As soon as a patient’s meds are ready, they’ll receive that call or text to let them know they can come in and pick it up. Or, they can opt for both and get a call to a home phone and a text message to a cell phone.”

The notification system also has the ability to remind patients that haven’t come after a week that something is still waiting on the shelf for them. At the 12-day mark, they’ll get a final reminder saying their meds will be returned to stock if not picked up within two days.

“We have a 14-day holding period and these new automated reminders will help a lot, because sometimes people just call things in, get distracted and don’t remember to pick them up,” Jago said. “Another benefit is now when their refill prescription arrives from Walter Reed, they’ll get confirmation their refill is here for pickup.”

Not only do these new methods help make it easier on the clinic’s patients, but they also reduce face-to-face contact in this time of COVID-19.

“Previously, we had a ticket kiosk and people could wait in the NEX food court to be called, but there’s no seating there now,” Jago said. “With all the COVID safety measures, we’re trying to reduce interactions and are not activating any prescriptions at the window. Hopefully, we’ll return to full operation one day, but for the time being, we’re requesting that people let us know in advance what they need and only come in when they know their medication is ready.”

Other methods of filling new prescriptions still include the clinic’s app, which is available in both the Apple and Android app stores by searching “NHCPR.”

“On that app, there’s an ‘activate Rx’ button you click and it pops up a form for the patient to fill out that gets sent to us when they submit it,” Jago noted. “With the app, we can activate prescriptions from civilian providers also. Really, the only reason you’d have to come to the pharmacy is if your doctor gave you a paper prescription and didn’t send it to us electronically or by fax.”

If patients do receive a paper prescription, there is a drop box located next to the pharmacy window where the patient will need to fill out a form and then drop that and their paper script into the box.

There is also a QR code that can be scanned using a smartphone that will pop up the same submission form as the app. That QR code can be found on business cards and posters near the pharmacy, and hanging in various places within the clinic.

And, of course, new prescriptions can always be activated by calling the local pharmacy number at 301-757-2605, but as Jago notes, “that’s not the most efficient method because callers will have to wait on hold behind other calls coming in about various other things.”

Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River is always looking to improve customer service and they read all comments submitted via the ICE system.

“Some patients have really good ideas and we want to listen to what they have to say,” Jago said. “We have a tiny facility we work with here and we dispense a lot of prescriptions. Our team is dedicated to providing the best service possible to support our patients.”