Skip to main content

Military Health System

After Leading Through the Pandemic, TRICARE Pharmacy Chief Retires

Image of . 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.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Health Care Technology

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...

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 10 - October 2022

Report
10/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance trends for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens among U.S. Military Health System Beneficiaries, Sept. 27, 2020 – Oct. 2,2021; Establishment of SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance within the MHS during March 1 – Dec. 31 2020; Suicide behavior among heterosexual, lesbian/gay, and bisexual active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces; Brief report: Phase I results using the Virtual Pooled Registry Cancer Linkage system (VPR-CLS) for military cancer surveillance.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 09 - September 2022

Report
9/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance trends for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens among U.S. Military Health System Beneficiaries, Sept. 27, 2020 – Oct. 2,2021; Establishment of SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance within the MHS during March 1 – Dec. 31 2020; Suicide behavior among heterosexual, lesbian/gay, and bisexual active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces; Brief report: Phase I results using the Virtual Pooled Registry Cancer Linkage system (VPR-CLS) for military cancer surveillance.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 07 - July 2022

Report
7/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance trends for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens among U.S. Military Health System Beneficiaries, Sept. 27, 2020 – Oct. 2,2021; Establishment of SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance within the MHS during March 1 – Dec. 31 2020; Suicide behavior among heterosexual, lesbian/gay, and bisexual active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces; Brief report: Phase I results using the Virtual Pooled Registry Cancer Linkage system (VPR-CLS) for military cancer surveillance.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 06 - June 2022

Report
6/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, re¬serve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Medical evacuations out of the U.S. Central and U.S. Africa Commands, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, deployed active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member ben¬eficiaries of the Military Health System, 2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 05 - May 2022

Report
5/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2021; Evaluation of ICD-10-CM-based case definitions of ambulatory encounters for COVID-19 among Department of Defense health care beneficiaries; The association between two bogus items, demographics, and military characteristics in a 2019 cross-sectional survey of U.S. Army soldiers; Surveillance snapshot: Tick-borne encephalitis in Military's Health System beneficiaries, 2012–2021.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 04 - April 2022

Report
4/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Exertional heat illness at Fort Benning, GA: Unique insights from the Army Heat Center; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2017–2021; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2006–2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 03 - March 2022

Report
3/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021; Obesity prevalence among active component service members prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, January 2018–July 2021; Brief report: Refractive surgery trends at tri-service refractive surgery centers and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, fiscal years 2000–2020; Brief report: Using syndromic surveillance to monitor MIS-C associated with COVID-19 in Military Health System beneficiaries; Surveillance snapshot: Medical separation from service among incident cases of osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 02 - February 2022

Report
2/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Diagnosis of hepatitis C infection and cascade of care in the active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; A new approach to categorization of ocular injury among U.S. Armed Forces; Surveillance snapshot: Health care burden attributable to osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 01 - January 2022

Report
1/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Description of a COVID-19 Beta variant outbreak, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, February–March 2021; COVID-19 and depressive symptoms among active component U.S. service members, January 2019–July 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Lengths of hospital stays for service members diagnosed with sepsis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2011–2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 012 - December 2021

Report
12/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Incident COVID-19 infections, active and reserve components, 1 January 2020–31 August 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Donovanosis among active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2011–2020

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 11 - November 2021

Report
11/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2016–June 2021; Brief report: The challenge of interpreting recurrent SARS-CoV-2 positive tests among military service members, Fort Jackson, SC, 2020–2021; Surveillance snapshot: History of COVID-19 vaccination among Air Force recruits arriving at basic training, 2 March–15 June 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces health care workers, August 2016–April 2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 10 - October 2021

Report
10/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2016–June 2021; Brief report: The challenge of interpreting recurrent SARS-CoV-2 positive tests among military service members, Fort Jackson, SC, 2020–2021; Surveillance snapshot: History of COVID-19 vaccination among Air Force recruits arriving at basic training, 2 March–15 June 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces health care workers, August 2016–April 2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 09 - September 2021

Report
9/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cross-sectional analysis of the association between perceived barriers to behavioral health care and intentions to leave the U.S. Army; Is suicide a social phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic? Differences by birth cohort on suicide among active component Army soldiers, 1 January 2000–4 June 2021; Brief report: Gender differences and diagnostic correlates of aggressive behaviors among active component sailors; Surveillance snapshot: A simple model estimating the impact of COVID-19 on lost duty days among U.S. service members; Update: Routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civilian applicants for U.S. Military Service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2016–June 2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 08 - August 2021

Report
8/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Long-acting reversible contraceptive use, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Oral cavity and pharynx cancers, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2019; The evolution of military health surveillance reporting: a historical review

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 07 - July 2021

Report
7/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Long-acting reversible contraceptive use, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Oral cavity and pharynx cancers, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2019; The evolution of military health surveillance reporting: a historical review.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 24
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