Answering the call: UF College of Pharmacy responds with call center support during pandemic

The battle against the COVID-19 pandemic is happening on many fronts, including a sprawling four-story office building on the east side of Gainesville, which houses the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s Center for Quality Medication Management, or CQM. Inside the call center, licensed pharmacists, technicians and pharmacy residents are supporting UF Health’s COVID-19 phone lines by triaging patients and scheduling telehealth appointments with physicians.

CQM COVID response
Clinical pharmacist Carolina De Los Ríos, Pharm.D., R.Ph., is among a team of pharmacists and staff in the Center for Quality Medication Management who are supporting UF Health’s COVID-19 phone lines.

CQM began its COVID-19 operations on March 30, and in the first month 1,150 patients were screened by phone. Pharmacists and staff use a series of questions to determine whether a patient needs to be evaluated by a UF Health physician via telehealth. They also collect patient information and enter it into UF Health’s electronic medical record system. The physician will consider the patient’s symptoms, travel history and other factors to determine whether a COVID-19 test is needed.

CQM’s transition to a COVID-19 call center happened in less than a week. Leadership in the UF College of Pharmacy presented the idea to UF Health administrators as a way to support the health system’s response to the pandemic.

“Early in the pandemic, it became clear that testing for COVID-19 would need to be done in a rapid fashion,” said David Vogel, M.B.A., director of the CQM. “Since testing requires a physician’s order, our call center became a vital link in connecting patients with a health care provider.”

CQM continues to maintain its normal business operations, while operating the COVID-19 call center. Health insurance providers and pharmacies nationwide contract with the center to provide telephone outreach to more than 25,000 patients each month. From locations in Gainesville and Orlando, pharmacists and technicians provide comprehensive medication reviews, adherence interventions and other telephone outreach services.