Early in December 2021, CalVet unveiled its new e-Prescribe software system that streamlined the process of prescribing medications for the more than 1,700 veteran residents and their spouses living at the eight Veterans Homes of California.
It became the first element of CalVet’s Electronic Health Records Program (CEHR) to go live. All regular medication orders are now sent electronically to CalVet’s pharmacies, in compliance with federal and state laws. The e-Prescribe software eliminates the paperwork – including those infamous hand-scribbled prescription notes from doctors – and increases security for all involved.
How did the launch go? Consider it a rousing success, based upon the efforts of more than 200 CalVet employees who worked together for more than six months to make it happen.
“I couldn’t be happier with the implementation of CalVet’s new e-Prescribe solution,” CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani MD said. “Our mission is to advocate and care for California’s veterans. Our IT staff, Homes staff, doctors, nurses, and clinicians came together as a team, launched the program efficiently, expertly, and ahead of schedule. I’m very proud of their work and the benefits it brings to the residents in our eight Veterans Homes of California. A job well done!”
The program uses technology to improve the prescription process, making it safer, more secure, and more efficient. Technology does and must play a major role in serving our veterans, stated Isaiah Mall, CalVet’s Chief Information Officer.
“If tech doesn’t (benefit) the mission, what good is tech?” he said.
In this case, its benefits were quickly obvious:
- The initial 30-day stabilization period found no critical issues and zero downtime. Everything worked.
“With no critical issues reported,” said Carlos Chavez, CalVet’s Chief Project Officer (CPO) and CEHR Project Director. The few little glitches that arose were easily resolved, and none disrupted the process.
- IT staff trained 518 doctors, nurses, and clinicians in less than a month, with 99 percent passing their final assessment.
“It was tremendously gratifying,” said Joyce Starosciak, the project’s Organizational Change Manager. “So many clinicians, nurses, and doctors stepped up. They showed the heart of CalVet—how hard they work to provide quality care.”
- The system went live on December 8, 2021, beating the mandated go-live deadline of January 1, 2022, by 23 days.
- In the first 20 days, e-Prescribe processed 1,482 prescriptions.
- Nearly 90 percent of CalVet’s physicians and 76 percent of all trained personnel logged into the system during its first 30 days.
“More than 80 CalVet team members meet virtually each week to discuss results, continued testing, processes, and updates,” said Rochelle Dann-Castro, CalVet’s project manager over CEHR. “So, everyone can rest assured it’s a secure e-Prescription process and a faster method of prescribing medications.”
CalVet operates pharmacies at its Yountville, West Los Angeles, and Chula Vista homes. The Yountville pharmacy dispenses to the Fresno and Redding homes, West Los Angeles to the Ventura and Lancaster homes, and Chula Vista to Barstow. Doctors, nurses, and clinicians serving the other homes send prescriptions electronically to their hub pharmacy.
The Yountville pharmacy, in fact, includes pharmacists actually employed by the Fresno and Redding homes. Those pharmacists fill prescriptions only for residents of their respective homes, ensuring that the right medications go to the right veterans in the right homes, said Shelly Larson, CalVet’s lead pharmacist.
“It’s great,” Larson said. “We’ve been waiting years for this. The pharmacy world has been tech heavy. We’ve been computer driven since the 1970s – the past 40 years. The outside world – the doctors, nurses – has been more paper driven.”
Doctors experienced the biggest change, stated Starosciak. “We instituted a multi-factor authentication process they have to implement,” she said. “The doctors now enter it (e-Prescribe), click buttons, and enter a six-digit code.”
The days of handwritten or faxed-in prescriptions are over for the pharmacies. Today, all eight homes use this standardized process, in compliance with federal and state laws that require prescription submissions.
Through e-Prescribe, medications are monitored by experts who ensure the veterans and their spouses get just what Dr. Imbasciani, more than 200 CalVet team members, and the patients’ doctors ordered.