Q&A: UPMC’s Director of Retail Pharmacies Network

By: Martin Kinnunen

A little more than a year ago, Arletta “Lettie” Yahnke joined UPMC as director of its Retail Pharmacy Network. The former district manager for Sam’s Club pharmacies recently discussed the growing role of UPMC’s retail pharmacies in the delivery of high-quality patient care and service.
Why is UPMC expanding its number of outpatient retail pharmacies?
So often at discharge, our patients are taken home by a loved one. Once the patient is home, that spouse or adult child then has to leave to pick up the prescription and take it back to the home. Not only is it an inconvenience, it may not be the best method to ensure the patient has that medication in a timely manner.

Our outpatient retail pharmacies can create a better patient experience by ensuring that patients have their medications before they leave the hospital. The physician can forward the prescription to the retail pharmacy, and it can be delivered to the inpatient unit before discharge.
So it’s all about improving patient care and convenience?
Exactly. Before discharge, patients and families receive a wealth of information. There are details about follow-up appointments and therapy sessions, as well as instructions about diet, perhaps caring for a wound or incision, scheduling home health care services, and so many other issues. Amid all of this, we often expect our patients and families to stop at their grocery store or local pharmacy to get their medications.
Our outpatient retail pharmacies ensure that our patients have the medications they need when they leave the hospital, while eliminating that extra stop at the pharmacy on the way home. When our patients have their medication, we can reduce readmissions and prevent complications.
How many retail pharmacies does UPMC have?
There are eight and soon to be 10. In the next few months, we will open an outpatient retail pharmacy in UPMC McKeesport. In the late summer, an outpatient retail pharmacy will open on the first floor of UPMC Presbyterian.
Our eight existing retail pharmacies are Falk Pharmacy (Falk Medical Building in Oakland), Hillman Pharmacy in Shadyside, Forbes Pharmacy in the Oxford Building in Oakland, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Outpatient Pharmacy, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC Outpatient Pharmacy, UPMC Mercy Outpatient Pharmacy, Community Drugs Pharmacy in Franklin, Pa., and Bayside Pharmacy near UPMC Hamot in Erie.
What is on the horizon for UPMC’s outpatient retail pharmacies?
We are working to install a new software system in the retail pharmacies that will prioritize prescription orders as they are placed. For example, prescriptions for discharge will be a priority over those that are scheduled to be picked up later in the day. By assigning priorities to various types of prescriptions, UPMC’s retail pharmacists can better manage their workflow and have more time to tackle patient-centered tasks
What are those patient-centered tasks?
When these improvements are completed, retail pharmacists will have more time for medication therapy management. Retail pharmacists will have more time to contact patients at home and ask them if they are experiencing any problems or issues taking their medications or getting refills. They will work with patients to reduce medication-related adverse events by emphasizing that many drugs, for instance, Coumadin, should not be taken in combination with other medications, such as aspirin. The pharmacists also will work with patients to enhance medication adherence to improve patient outcomes.