Q-Anywhere, Madigan’s answer to pharmacy lines

By Kirstin Grace-Simons on February 4, 2022

MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord - Do you like standing in line? Does anyone? If you are a patient at Madigan Army Medical Center, you can expect to do less of it with the Department of Pharmacy's new Q-Anywhere system.

Patients can now use this program to skip the line and "queue anywhere," activating their prescriptions using a QR code or texting. They will get a text message when their medications are ready.

"The intent of Q-Anywhere is to allow patients with new or renewal prescriptions - medications with no refills - entered by their provider, regardless if the provider is on-post or off-post, to request to have their medication activated and wait for that medication to be processed without physically waiting in the drop-off line. The only time the patient comes inside of the pharmacy is to pick up the medication," explained Maj. Kenesha Pace, the chief of the Department of Pharmacy.

The current process to retrieve a prescription from Madigan's Outpatient Pharmacy is for the patient to go to the pharmacy, wait to speak to a technician at a window in order to activate their prescription. The technician gives the patient a time to return to pick up their medication; three hours later is the standard fill time for most medications.

Whatever a doctor may prescribe, a patient must make the final decision about their medication use. With that in mind, it is important to note that prescriptions entered by care providers are not automatically filled; a patient must engage the pharmacy and have them activate that prescription.

The pharmacy has been making a number of changes to speed its service and improve patient satisfaction. It recently changed its pickup process from having patients wait for their number to be called, meaning they must be present to get their medication. That created crowds of patients waiting for long periods of time. While this was not an ideal use of a patient's time, it proved an even worse way to prevent the spread of infection once COVID-19 developed. Coming in to activate a prescription and then returning once it is filled addresses both the use of time and social distancing issues of the former process.

Now, the pharmacy has added to this improvement by facilitating the prescription activation element via smartphones.

A QR code offers a "quick response" through a graphic that leads to a website. This square has a different pattern of black and white ink for each destination to provide a simple picture for a person to aim the camera on their smartphone at to then pull up that website.

Alternatively, a patient can text the phrase, "Get in line" to 1 (833) 270-8758. In return will come a prompt to enter the patient's Department of Defense identification number.

From here, the patient will be guided through the activation process for medications and, once complete, will receive the following message: "We activate anything new within the past 14 days and you will receive a text when they are ready."

It is very important to end the process by texting "Done", when prompted. If this part is skipped, the prescription does not get activated and the pharmacy will not prepare the medication.

What to expect next:

A patient will receive one of the following responses when the prescription is being processed:

"Your prescription is ready for pick-up. Please pick up your medication anytime from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon-Fri at the Main Outpatient Pharmacy; windows 7 or 8."

This message means success and nothing more is needed from either the patient or the provider.


"Thank you for using Q-Anywhere. No new prescriptions were seen on your profile...."

This message means there is nothing new within the last 14 days, not necessarily that nothing is available on your profile. You will need to come into the pharmacy to activate any prescription outside of this timeframe.


"This prescription requires a Prior Authorization (PA)...."

This message means that there is a prescription, but it cannot be processed without further intervention from the provider. This could be because the medication must be compounded or is not on formulary.

The timeline to know:

Prescriptions can be activated via Q-Anywhere Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The cutoff for same-day pick-up of prescriptions is 3 p.m. Any activated after that time will be available the next business day after 8:30 a.m.

Though the pharmacy is open on Saturday, any prescriptions activated using Q-Anywhere on Saturday will be available for pick-up on Monday, unless that is a federal holiday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This is an option that can make getting prescriptions easier, but it is not for everyone or every situation.

Patients should be aware that Q-Anywhere cannot be used to activate refills. Patients must call the automated refill line at: (253) 968-2999 to activate their refill prescriptions.

Pace also pointed out, "Patients still have the option to enter inside the pharmacy, especially if they are unable to use Q-Anywhere before 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and they need same-day medication service."

The Madigan website can answer a lot of questions on Q-Anywhere and all other Pharmacy processes and options. https://madigan.tricare.mil/Health-Services/Pharmacy.

"The early success of Q-Anywhere indicates we are on the right path," said Maj. Jason Parsons, the deputy chief of the Department of Pharmacy.

Parsons went on to note that this system is very predictable and, when used as directed, has a very low failure rate. But, if a patient has any difficulty, the pharmacy staff is ready to make sure the patient's needs are met.

Parsons said, "If there is an issue, talk with us; Madigan's extraordinary pharmacy team is here to assist."