27 MDG addresses clinic patrons’ issues

By Airman 1st Class Thomas Trower

First Call Resolution, quicker waiting times and fewer clinic visits were top subjects discussed at a Community Healthcare Council meeting with customers of the base clinic March 21 at The Landing.
In an open forum, Col. Kenneth Hall, 27th Medical Group commander, updated families on programs being implemented to decrease appointment wait times as well as make waiting environments more pleasant.
The meeting began with discussion about exploring an 800 number for patients to call and check operating hours, current services and other information that could be updated instantly. This service would allow beneficiaries who live a long distance from the base to check if the clinic was closed before leaving their homes, said Colonel Hall.
Another focus area is what the clinic commander termed “First Call Resolution,” which ensures that patients only make one call to get their appointment needs addressed. Callers won’t be left with a response of “[the clinic] is booked, call back later,” said the colonel.
Operators will make every effort to schedule appointments at the requested time, but if no appointments are available, other arrangements will be made. These arrangements could be having the clinic personally call patients back; sending patients to the Acute Care Clinic (ACC) or having a provider in the local area provide the needed care.
“The [27th MDG] has worked hard to develop a strong TRICARE network with local civilian healthcare providers,” said Colonel Hall. “This network offers opportunities for patients to be seen more quickly, while still receiving the same high-quality care they know and expect.”
One other issue the clinic is noticing is that patients are not using referrals or attending follow-up appointments, said Colonel Hall. “Patients need to use these services to ensure continuity of care, prevent unnecessary workload and avoid wasted appointments.”.
Many patients are deciding to take their follow-up care to the ACC when they are in a rush, causing wait times to increase.
“When patients go to the Acute Care Clinic for follow-up appointments or any non-urgent care, it causes a delay for people truly in need of the ACC’s services,” said Colonel Hall. “The ACC is designed for new health problems that have occurred within the last 72 hours and need to be seen within 24 hours to prevent additional impact from waiting longer to receive care.”
To avoid extended “waiting room” time during periods of high demand, the ACC is currently exploring various customer-focused options. Patients can either wait for care, return at a later scheduled time or receive a referral for network care in Clovis, said Colonel Hall.
Another item addressed at the meeting will lessen the amount of trips active duty Airmen will have to make to the clinic.
Soon, the Individual Medical Readiness status of all Airmen will be checked at every appointment they attend at the clinic to help Airmen update all their deployment requirements in the same visit. This helps ensure they are medically deployable when the time arises and it also reduces their time out of the workplace,” said Colonel Hall.
The final subject brought up in the meeting was the availability of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine. The Women’s Health Clinic is offering the HPV vaccine to women ages 11-26.
Community Healthcare Council meetings are held quarterly throughout the year for all 27th MDG beneficiaries. The next meeting will be in the June-July timeframe.