Army Medicine improves access for enrolled beneficiaries

U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to 1/25 SBCT "Arctic Wolves", U.S. Army Alaska, transport equipment using snowshoes and ahkio sleds during an arctic mobility squad competition in the Yukon Training Area, Ft. Wainwright, Alaska. Photo by U.S. Army 1st Lt. James Gallagher

An Army Medicine News Release
WASHINGTON — Army Medicine has put forth tremendous effort toward meeting the access to care needs of our enrolled beneficiaries over the past few years. Specifically, our access to care mission is to have the right provider, giving the right care, at the right time, in the right place. We remain committed to providing the highest quality care to all enrolled beneficiaries, including retirees and their families. Mentioned below are just some the ongoing initiatives that we are focusing on to improve the overall patient experience.
To improve satisfaction and convenience, Army Medicine established 20 Community Based Medical Homes (CBMHs) with an additional five more coming over the next two years. These clinics, located in communities in which retirees and their families live, are extensions of the larger health clinics, community hospitals and medical centers on Army installations. Establishing CBMHs has not only increased the number of available providers and appointments, but offers services in close proximity to where you live.
Army Medicine is also carefully looking at the number of primary care appointments offered to our beneficiaries. A team of specialists analyzes how many appointments are available and then predicts how many are needed to meet the local demand. Following this detailed analysis, we are able to shift or enhance resources to increase the number of appointments available to enrolled beneficiaries. Even with these improvements, we continue to conduct monthly review of the data and fine-tune our ability to meet your needs.
According to recent patient satisfaction surveys the telephone appointing system was identified as an area that needed improvement. During the past year, Army Medicine has made tremendous gains with properly resourcing our call centers to support the volume of calls received. Additionally, we standardized the call center policies, procedures and training requirements Army-wide. To further improve satisfaction with the call center experience, Army Medicine implemented a policy that our enrolled beneficiaries will never be asked to call back at a later time to get an appointment. Our goal is to meet your needs the first time you call.
Army Medicine has also embraced advances in technology by utilizing three “virtual appointing” processes: the Nurse Advice Line (NAL), Army Secure Messaging (AMSMS), and virtual medicine. The NAL provides convenient, telephonic access to health care resources and is available to beneficiaries 24/7/365 across the continental United States. The NAL staff gives advice for self-care and can make direct care appointments or refer patients to the community when appropriate. AMSMS allows beneficiaries to communicate with their primary care team via e-mail. Using AMSMS, beneficiaries can initiate a web-based visit, receive preventive care reminders, request test results, ask for prescription renewals, and/or ask a question about their care. Virtual
medicine, already an option in some military treatment facilities (MTF), allows a beneficiary in one location to have
a web-based visit with a provider in another location. Virtual medicine is an area in which we expect to see
tremendous growth over the next few years.
Army Medicine is invested in providing high quality care and welcomes the opportunity to serve you. We recognize that it is not always easy for a beneficiary to know if capacity is available and we strongly recommend retirees consult with their managed care support contractor to see if primary care enrollment opportunities are available in local military treatment facilities. Army Medicine values your service and wants to continue to be the primary provider of choice for retirees and their families.
Army Medicine takes every patient's experience very seriously. We encourage beneficiaries who feel that their MTF is not measuring up to the standards described in this article to contact their local MTF patient advocate.