By Lt. Col. David Kuch
21st Medical Support Squadron commander
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Reduced patient paperwork; decreased patient wait times; quicker results and diagnoses; more accurate medication refills; and available medical equipment and supplies — all a result of innovation.
By definition, innovation is the use of a new idea or method to create more effective products, processes or services. Every day, the patients of the 21st Medical Group benefit from the innovative ideas of outstanding, dedicated medic leaders. Innovative medical advances enable our healthcare providers to afford life-saving and extending care — as we like to say, “Medicate to Dominate.”
The 21st Medical Support Squadron provides mission essential support to our highly talented and educated medical providers who treat patients. This support includes the pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, logistics, medical readiness, TRICARE operations and patient administration, medical logistics, medical information systems and resource management. Innovative medical support, although less obvious to the patient, is vitally important to the timely and accurate diagnosis, treatment and overall well-being of our patients.
Innovative ideas often arise from our most junior Airmen who perform the mission each and every day. Senior Airman David Jones, a radiology technician here, exemplifies the innovative capability of our young Airmen. In his first year on-station here at Peterson AFB, Jones developed two innovative methods to improve patient care. His first innovation was a new method to screen radiology patients which has eliminated patient paperwork.
He didn’t stop there! He also devised a method to access patient information thereby streamlining the radiology patient examination preparation process, earning him an Air Force Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program award. Both process improvements have reduced patient waiting times and optimized the ability to diagnose and treat our patients.
Innovations are also inspired by experienced NCOs and senior NCOs. Tech. Sgt. Christopher Edgecomb employed the medical group’s “first-ever” in-house paging system which allows pharmacy patients the freedom to shop at The Exchange and commissary while waiting for medication refills, and thus, optimizes patient’s valuable time. Additionally, pharmacy technicians Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Xenos and Staff Sgt. Calvin Cummings, along with medical logistician Staff Sgt. Jeremy Hightower, established an innovative medication “special order” procurement process by substituting high-cost medications with their generic equivalent. This initiative has saved $477,000 since the program’s inception and is a great stewardship of tax-payer dollars.
“Medicate to Dominate” is more than a warrior cry to rally our Airmen. It is a sincere promise to our patients that our medic leaders will remain innovative and disciplined affording the best care possible.