Health Ministry Launches Pilot to Speed up the Filling of Prescriptions

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (2nd right, seated), and National Health Fund (NHF) Chief Executive Officer, Everton Anderson (right, seated) sign the contract formalising May Pen, Clarendon-based Health First Pharmacy’s participation in the Public Sector Pharmacy Partner Pilot Programme. The signing took place at the pharmacy to launch the initiative, on Monday, December 19. Looking on (from left, seated) are NHF Chairman, Christopher Zacca; and Health First Pharmacy Managing Director, Oretha Brown. Standing (from left) are Senior NHF Vice President in charge of Information and Communications Technology, Granville Gayle; newly installed Mayor of May Pen, Councillor Winston Maragh; and NHF Vice President in charge of Operations, Ann Logan.

Story Highlights

  • The Public Sector Pharmacy Partner Programme, which will be rolled out over the next three months, will see the Ministry, through the National Health Fund (NHF), partnering with a number of private pharmacies to facilitate speedier dispensing of medication to persons issued with prescriptions at public hospitals and clinics.
  • The pilot will involve 14 private pharmacies – five in May Pen, Clarendon, and the remainder in Kingston – which will complement services provided by the DrugServ pharmacies.
  • Dr. Tufton said engagement of as many, if not all of the nearly 500 private-sector pharmacies operating in Jamaica, is expected to reduce the number of clients attended to by DrugSev pharmacies, thereby making their operations more manageable.

The Ministry of Health has embarked on a pilot project to speed up the time persons can get their prescriptions filled.

The Public Sector Pharmacy Partner Programme, which will be rolled out over the next three months, will see the Ministry, through the National Health Fund (NHF), partnering with a number of private pharmacies to facilitate speedier dispensing of medication to persons issued with prescriptions at public hospitals and clinics.

This is aimed at reducing the waiting time encountered by persons using NHF-operated DrugServ pharmacies, located at public hospitals, which in some stances, averages as much as three hours, according to reports received by the Ministry.

The pilot will involve 14 private pharmacies – five in May Pen, Clarendon, and the remainder in Kingston – which will complement services provided by the DrugServ pharmacies.

The initiative was formally launched by Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, during a ceremony at one of the participating entities, Health First Pharmacy in May Pen, Clarendon, on Monday, December 19.

An agreement formalising the arrangement was also signed during the proceedings.

Representatives of the four other May Pen-based pharmacies were also in attendance. They include GSD Pharmacy, Jenny’s Pharmacy, Miller’s Pharmacy, and Newland Pharmacy. Also attending was Jamaica Association of Private Pharmacy Owners President, Shereen Dawson Cox.

A similar launch involving nine pharmacies operating in Cross Roads, Kingston, is slated for next week.

 

In his address, Dr. Tufton said the initiative forms part of the Administration’s “critical mandate” of enhancing effective and efficient public healthcare delivery.

He said that pivotal to this is improved customer service aimed at promptly filling prescriptions and dispensing medication, adding that “there is no better way to do that than to engage our stakeholder partners in the private sector”.

Dr. Tufton said engagement of as many, if not all of the nearly 500 private-sector pharmacies operating in Jamaica, is expected to reduce the number of clients attended to by DrugSev pharmacies, thereby making their operations more manageable.

The Minister said he anticipates making an announcement regarding the project’s full roll-out at the start of the 2017/18 fiscal year in April, following the pilot’s conclusion and review in March.

Dr. Tufton lauded the DrugServ pharmacies, noting that this arrangement is a “good system” that continues to benefit thousands of Jamaicans.

For his part, NHF Chairman, Christopher Zacca, said the partnership will provide an option which will see persons being asked to pay a mere $200 to offset administrative costs at the participating pharmacies.

He explained that persons accessing the programme must have a Government of Jamaica (GOJ) or NHF health card.

Mr. Zacca said they will be issued with special prescriptions that they will be instructed to take to any of the participating pharmacies where it is expected that “you are going to get through in, we hope, no more than half an hour”.

“There will be teething pains. But it’s important that we find out what these issues are, so that when we come to roll this out islandwide, we know how to fix all the various problems,” he added.

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