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. 2 No. 9 – November 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Shigella sonnei diarrheal outbreaks; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; TB Skin Test Converters, Ft. Leavenworth; Surveillance trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI hospitalizations; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 7 – September 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Rash illness outbreak among British Soldiers; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Leptospirosis - Tripler Army Medical Center; Surveillance trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI hospitalizations; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 6 – July 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hookworm Disease - Ft. Drum, NY; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Malaria Outbreak, Vincenza, Italy; Surveillance trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI hospitalizations; Heat / Cold weather injuries, Jan - Jun, 1996; Supplement: HIV-1 in the Army; Status of HIV-1 infected patients; Active duty soldiers infected with HIV-1; Prevalence of HIV-1, civilian applicants; HIV-1 testing program, 1985 – 1995; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 8 – October 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Vivax malaria in U.S. forces – Korea; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Diarrhea outbreak – Croatia; 1996-97 Influenza immunization guidelines; ARD surveillance update; Supplement: Notifiable conditions Jan - Sep 1996; Notifiable conditions reported through MSS; Heat / Cold weather injuries; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Surveillance trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI hospitalizations.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 2 – February 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Injuries in integrated BCT units, FLW, MO; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Cold weather injuries, Ft. Drum, NY; Surveillance Trends: Hospitalizations, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI Hospitalizations; TB skin test results, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 2 No. 5 – May 1996

Report
1/1/1996

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Listeria monocytogenes meningitis, Ft. Bragg; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Strongyloides stercoralis hyperinfection; Surveillance trends: Hospitalization rates, Bosnia; Bosnia update: DNBI hospitalizations; Kawasaki Disease, Tripler Army Medical Center; Heat / Cold weather injuries, Jan - Apr, 1996; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 5 – August 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Heat related Injuries, July 1995; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Heat / Cold weather injuries, Jan - Jul, 1995; Classification and disposition of heat injuries; Respiratory disease outbreak, Fort Jackson; Surveillance trends: Heat Injuries 1990 – 1994; ARD surveillance update; Lightning Strike, Fort Jackson.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 8 – November 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hydrogen sulfide exposure, Ft Irwin; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; GBS following Influenza immunization; Korean hemorrhagic fever, Korea; Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Fort Leavenworth, KS; PM guidance: Deployment to FRY; Cold weather injury rates, 1991 – 1995; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 3 – June 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance for tuberculosis infection, WRAMC; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Top ten corner: Causes of lost duty days; Adenovirus Outbreak - Fort Jackson; ARD surveillance update; Supplement: HIV-1 infection; Status of HIV-1 infected patients; Prevalence of HIV-1, civilian applicants; Active duty soldiers infected with HIV-1; HIV-1 testing program, 1985 – 1994.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 9 – December 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hydrogen sulfide exposure, Ft Irwin; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; GBS following Influenza immunization; Korean hemorrhagic fever, Korea; Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Fort Leavenworth, KS; PM guidance: Deployment to FRY; Cold weather injury rates, 1991 – 1995; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 7 – October 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Adenovirus serosurvey, basic trainees; Influenza immunization guidelines, 1995-96; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Mefloquine use in pregnant soldiers; Surveillance trends: Bacterial diarrhea; Supplement: Notifiable conditions Jan - Sep 1995; Notifiable conditions reported through MSS; Heat / Cold weather injuries; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; ARD surveillance update; Force strength (June 1995).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 1 - April 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Chemical agent exposure, Germany; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Influenza-like illness, Ft Benning; ARD update; Supplement #1: 1994 Hospitalization Summary; Active Duty Hospitalizations; Hospitalization rates; Total Hospital Sickdays; Non-Effective Rates; Supplement #2: 1994 Reportable Disease Summary; Reports submitted by MT0; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; All notifiable conditions; Heat / Cold weather injuries; Force strength (December 1994).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 6 – September 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Dermatitis outbreak, Heidelberg, Germany; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Heat injuries, Mar - Aug, 1995; Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, Korea; Surveillance trends: HFRS 1990-1994; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 4 – July 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Diarrheal outbreak, UN battalion, Haiti; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Malaria in active duty soldiers; Supplement: Notifiable conditions Jan - Jun 1995; Notifiable conditions reported through MSS; Heat / Cold weather injuries; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; ARD surveillance update; Force strength (March 1995).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 1 No. 2 – May 1995

Report
1/1/1995

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Tularemia case report; ARD surveillance update; Rubella outbreak in German troops, Ft. Bragg; Selected notifiable conditions; Notifiable sexually transmitted diseases; Injury hospitalizations, ODS; Top ten corner: Disability evaluations.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health
<< < ... 21 22 23 > >> 
Showing results 331 - 345 Page 23 of 23
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