Skip to main content

Military Health System

Test of Sitewide Banner

This is a test of the sitewide banner capability. In the case of an emergency, site visitors would be able to visit the news page for addition information.

After Leading Through the Pandemic, TRICARE Pharmacy Chief Retires

Image of Curbside Pharma. At the start of the pandemic, a curbside pharmacy service was initially offered as an additional health protection measure to minimize foot traffic and help to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, Air Force Col. Markus Gmehlin faced a massive and urgent task: adapting the TRICARE Pharmacy system to ensure that everyone could get access to their medications – but to also avoid packing people into pharmacy waiting rooms and potentially further spreading the virus.

Gmehlin, the chief of TRICARE Pharmacy for the Defense Health Agency, said the top priority was safety.

"We wanted to have some good standard guidance to maintain staff and patient safety. That was first and foremost," he recalled.

The next challenge to address was how to continue providing the medication that beneficiaries need.

"We wanted to maintain access to care for all of our patients, especially for maintenance medications, like high cholesterol meds, heart medications — things that people need on an ongoing basis."

"We looked at the various military Medical Treatment Facilities to figure out who had the leading practices," he said.

Early in the pandemic, many of the military hospitals and clinics began offering drive-up and curbside pharmacy service. Beneficiaries called pharmacy personnel from outside the pharmacy, then the pharmacy personnel carried the medication out to the patient and offered curbside counseling.

That worked, in the sense that patients would never have to physically enter the pharmacy.

But Gmehlin said it was not a sustainable plan, due to safety concerns, temperature extremes, and weather conditions.

So Gmehlin and his team initiated a set of new pharmacy programs that have transformed the pharmacy system, including the "Q–Anywhere" and "ScriptCenters" programs. Those changes have proven to be highly successful and will likely remain permeant components of the pharmacy system.

Gmehlin is finishing a 30-year military medical career, with an official retirement date of June 1. In his final role, he led the delivery of a $10 billion annual pharmacy program across the Military Health System. And he worked with the Pentagon's Health Affairs team and DHA leadership, and often interacted with industry groups.

In a recent interview, he reflected on his time with DHA.

"If I have done anything, it's that we got the right team built to keep the program moving forward," he said.

"We've got some great folks," he said. "They understand that we just cannot maintain the status quo and that we need to constantly reevaluate our program to figure out how do we do it smarter, more efficiently, and how do we align with civilian or commercial best practices."

Q–Anywhere

"What we implemented was a remote pharmacy check-in capability," Gmehlin said. The process started in the fall of 2020, and is currently deployed at 50 military hospitals and clinics.

With Q-Anywhere, beneficiaries scan a QR code to activate processing of new prescriptions. The phone-based app prompts them to "get in line," by entering their Defense Department identification number, which activates their prescriptions. The beneficiary receives a confirmation text message. When the prescription is ready for pickup, another text message is sent. When beneficiaries arrive for pick up, they show pharmacy personnel the code on their phone.

"Huge reduction in people waiting around and it has been tremendous for customer satisfaction. Folks are thrilled," he said.

ScriptCenters

Also implemented during that timeframe in 2020 were the "ScriptCenters."

Gmehlin described this option as an "Amazon-type locker." Patients can choose this option, which allows them to scan their ID at the designated ScriptsCenter, wait for the assigned locker door to pop open, and then retrieve their medication out of the locker. There are 90 units at 76 different locations. Some locations have ScriptsCenters at the base or post exchange, or at another location inside the hospital.

Both Q-Anywhere and the Scripts Center required planning with the pharmacy operations division, which has four branches. One branch is the Informatics Integration Branch, which works all the information technology projects. When new COVID support funding became available, the team strategized on the tools and products that would be most useful.

"Then we worked with the service leadership and each of the MTFs to determine if they were interested or not interested," Gmehlin said.

Gmehlin hopes the long-term impact of his job is that people understand the good things that come out of the pharmacy program, what people are working on, and how they try to create a sustainable benefit, while at the same time increasing access to various medications.

"The neat thing is when the DHA journey started, there were three separate health systems: Army, Navy and Air Force. And everybody had a different way to do things, -- different outcomes, different everything. The exciting thing is working with the services to now unify three separate systems, or cultures into one, and incorporating the best that everybody brings. It has been great to see a single system that comes together to provide the best care."

"At the end of the day, it is about how do we provide best outcomes and health for our amazing beneficiaries."

You also may be interested in...

Eyes on Vision Readiness

Article Around MHS
1/27/2023
Military personnel gets eye exam

Good eyesight is often take for granted, but vision impairment can be the difference between mission success and mission failure. Find out what's happening on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling so airmen in the National Capital Region remain sharply focused on their U.S. Air Force missions.

I Am Navy Medicine - and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist - Lt. Jason Balazs

Article Around MHS
1/27/2023
Military medical personnel administers ultrasound on patient.

National Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) Week is January 22-28, 2023. Learn why CRNAs like Lt. Jason Balazs use extraordinary precision and focus to support critical mission readiness and their impact on this profession's long history and enduring record of patient safety.

U.S. Army Medical Laboratory Forges Relationship with Australian Defence Force Institute

Article Around MHS
1/25/2023
Military personnel in medical laoratory

American soldiers from the 1st Area Medical Laboratory were hosted by their counterparts at the Australian Defence Force Malaria and Infectious Disease Institute in Brisbane, Australia. Find out what was discussed at this meeting to strengthen critical relationships, save lives, and enable both sides' mission readiness.

959th Medical Group Airmen at BAMC Receive Distinguished Awards

Article Around MHS
1/18/2023
U.S. Army Col. Renee Matos speaks at ceremony

The New Year’s revelry may be over; however, with a host of local and national awards, the 959th Medical Group still has cause to celebrate. Several 959th Airmen assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center were recognized recently for their selfless service, professionalism, and clinical expertise, both at home and overseas.

Injured Fort Bliss K-9 Handler Makes Inspiring Return to Duty

Article Around MHS
1/10/2023
Military personnel with K9

A military working dog handler assigned to the 93rd Military Police battalion survives a horrific motorcycle crash with a speeding pickup driver, but his prognosis was grim. Find out how dedication, motivation, and his sweet connection with a K-9 got U.S. Army Spc. Cade Brown back on the road to recovery.

Theater Medical Command Experiment Focuses on Large-Scale Combat Operations, Future Operating Environment

Article Around MHS
1/6/2023
Military medical personnel at Fort Sam Houston

The Medical Capability Integration Directorate hosted its culminating limited objective experiment for calendar year 2022. See how the Theater Medical Command (TMC) Experiment will affect large-scale combat operations and prioritize limited Army Health System capabilities and how the TMC will support future operating environments.

Air Force Research Laboratory Launches Wearable Biomolecular Sensors Program

Article Around MHS
12/29/2022
Military personnel demonstrating a wearable human performance monitoring device

It's like an aircraft's "black box" - that Soldiers wear. Learn about the research collaboration that will literally "arm" warfighters with a sensor to track their well-being during critical missions, predicting performance and health issues before they occur.

Tele-Critical Care Brings New Capability to Womack Army Medical Center

Article Around MHS
12/27/2022
Military medical personnel demonstrating new tele-critical care medicine

This groundbreaking new tool gives critically ill patients access to 24/7 monitoring by deploying medical experts who can get them help immediately. See how it works, and why military medical experts are calling it the fail-safe mechanism that cannot be underestimated.

New “mCurriculum” Launched to Help Surgeons Worldwide Sharpen Skills, Improve Clinical Readiness

Article Around MHS
12/23/2022
Military personnel holding new device developed by USU

Imagine surgeons honing their skills using their smartphone, tablet, or computer. Thanks to a collaboration between the Uniformed Services University, the American College of Surgeons, the Military Health System Strategic Partnership American College of Surgeons, and the University of California, Davis, it's happening. See how this groundbreaking "mCurriculum" is helping surgeons around the globe save lives.

New Work Group Looks at Preventive Health Measures for Service Members

Article Around MHS
12/9/2022
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Christopher Mohan

The U.S. Coast Guard is now prioritizing a review of health-related data to determine how to reduce illness and injuries within the workforce. This shift is prompted by a policy update within the Coast Guard Medical Manual COMDTINST 6000.7, as well as the new Population Health Optimization Work Group that will impact members, civilians, dependents, and retirees.

Medical Maintenance Sustaining the Warfighter

Article Around MHS
11/1/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Monica Hewey works on ventilator

Biomedical Equipment Technician, or BMET, is one of those little-known career fields in the Air Force, yet it has a big impact on readiness and lethality.

Tactical Medical Augmentation Team Increases Combat Medical Capability

Article Around MHS
10/24/2022
TacticalMedical-725

To find a solution to an identified gap in medical care provided in combat situations, the U.S. Air Force 920th Rescue Wing’s Aeromedical Staging Squadron developed the Tactical Medical Augmentation Team, an embedded medical team that will bring a new level of patient care directly to the battlefield.

U.S. Army's Regional Health Command-Europe Redesignates to Medical Readiness Command

Article Around MHS
10/11/2022
Military personnel at color ceremony

The U.S. Army is modernizing medical care to provide sustained expeditionary, and tailored medical forces to support the Army against any adversary in joint, multi-domain, high-intensity battlefields of the future and through the next pandemic.

Training Marines as Combat Life Savers

Article Around MHS
10/7/2022
Military medical personnel practice lifesaving procedures

U.S. Navy Corpsman from Expeditionary Operations Training Group (EOTG), I Marine Expeditionary Force, hosted the second iteration of Marines training on life saving fundamentals and casualty care.

CHCS Hospital Information System Ends its Life at Madigan

Article Around MHS
10/5/2022
Col. (Dr.) Jonathan Craig Taylor speaking at podium

Madigan Army Medical Center turned off its legacy computer system Composite Health Care System (CHCS) at a decommissioning ceremony on September 29, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Page 2 of 5 , showing items 16 - 30
First < 1 2 3 4 5 > Last 
Refine your search
Last Updated: June 01, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery