A new, automated prescription refill system has made time management much easier for Muscogee Creek pharmacy staff.
Nearly a year ago, the tribe tapped Enacomm, a leader in interactive voice response technology, to help the Muscogee Creek Nation Department of Health manage their increasingly high call volumes. Now customers can call in day or night and use a touchtone system to reorder prescriptions. If necessary, they can press zero to speak to a member of the pharmacy staff.
Enacomm estimates the pharmacy receives roughly 5,000 calls per week. "The issue they had was the pharmacy staff being inundated with people calling," Michael Boukadakis, founder and chief executive officer of Enacomm, told Indian Country Today Media Network. "They were always on the phone taking reorders," or listening to voice messages to input refills. "The staff loves [the new system]," he said.
Enacomm currently offers 32 language options to all clients, but the Muscogee Creek Nation elected to offer their automated prescription refill service in both English and the Mvskoke language: “Hesci Mvskoke Etvlwv heleswv vpohetv vrvkv tos” (Welcome to the Muscogee Creek Nation automated prescription refill system).
"Some ladies in the [tribe's] language department did the voice recordings for [Enacomm]," Robert Coffey, chief information officer for the Muscogee Creek Nation Department of Health, told ICTMN. "For some of our elders, that's still their only language," Coffey added.
According to Enacomm, tribal members are taking advantage of their Native language option.
"We're seeing 10 to 20 percent of the population actually choosing the [Mvskoke] language option," Boukadakis told ICTMN. He noted Enacomm does not measure the age or other specific demographics of the individuals using the touchtone prescription refill system, but he deduces that tribal elders are most likely the ones opting for the Mvskoke language. "This gives me satisfaction," he said. "When parents are going, 'I can't use these stupid computers or smart phones,' it's nice to have technology that elderly feel comfortable utilizing. It gives me great gratification to not only be helping the whole tribe but a specific group…."
"Another unique thing that really surprised us," Boukadakis added, "was the average number of prescriptions each person refills is five. Using this technology to self-refill saves quite a bit of time. You can take care of the whole process with one call."
Over the next two months, Enacomm is rolling out an additional pharmacy service for the tribe: automated calls that remind people when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up, Boukadakis told ICTMN.
When the tribe first implemented the self-refill application, it disseminated marketing materials and educational videos to introduce tribal members to the new system. The reception has been very positive. "We're seeing a low percentage of people who actually transfer [to speak to pharmacy personnel]," Boukadakis told ICTMN.
The Muscogee Creek Nation Department of Health is one of the largest tribal health systems in Oklahoma with an annual budget of nearly $85 million. The tribe's reservation, which spans 11 counties in northeastern Oklahoma, south of Tulsa, is home to six health centers. And in August, the tribe purchased the University of Oklahoma's Okmulgee-based George Nigh Rehabilitation Center for $1 million, marking the first time a public university in Oklahoma has transferred a property to a tribal nation, Coffey said.
The Muscogee health system is "unique in the aspect that we have everything under one roof," Coffey told ICTMN, "pediatrics, family medicine, pharmacy, dental, vision, [nursing, laboratory, radiology, behavioral health, emergency medical, audiology, nutrition, physical therapy and optometry]—the whole gamut of services. We want to provide even more, to keep all services in-house," rather than having to refer patients to specialty doctors in the Tulsa area. "We're getting ready to build a new hospital and chemotherapy facility. We're also looking at getting a dialysis center," Coffey said.