News: Tripler Army Medical Center to roll out Nurse Advice Line
Story by Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal
TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii – The Military Health Care System [TRICARE] Nurse Advice Line is set to offer TRICARE beneficiaries a new way to receive medical triage advice starting May 30.
The free service will be available 24/7, 365 days a year for those residing within the United States and is recommended for beneficiaries that would like guidance as to when and where they should seek medical care for themselves or a family member.
Doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians at Tripler Army Medical Center see the advice line as a way to deliver more efficient quality care to patients.
“One of the biggest benefits from the service is the potential to improve access to care,” said Dr. Sean Harap, TAMC physician. “We’re always striving within military treatment facilities to improve patient access to care - access that is preferably, if not an emergency, to their own personal, assigned primary care provider that knows them best.”
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Regina Lambert, Pacific Region Medical Command Patient Center Medical Home, Transformation Team noncommissioned officer in charge, said that patients can receive access information and timely medical advice when the Nurse Advice Line is used.
“In the middle of the night if your child has a fever and you’re wondering, ‘should I go to the emergency room?’ just call the Nurse Advice Line and they can help you by asking you a series of questions about your concerns and help you get to the right place and the right type of provider,” Lambert said.
According to Harap, the Nurse Advice Line will not only provide patients with an effective way to get care but also allow the ER to operate more efficiently.
“If a patient needs to be seen at the ER, we want them in the ER so we can address urgent medical issues ASAP,” Harap said. “However, there are a lot of reasons why patients go to the ER for which they don’t necessarily need to be in the ER. These unnecessary ER visits contribute to long waiting times for ER services. We want to preserve the ER for those who are actually having emergencies or have medical problems that are imminent or dangerous.”
The advice line will be able to determine the proper method of care and book appointments for patients to their primary care providers when indicated. The Nurse Advice Line, however, is not primarily a clinic scheduling service. It is triage service to facilitate guiding patients to the right place to get care at any given time based on the patient’s clinical situation.
“We encourage patients to call the Nurse Advice Line where they will be triaged using validated algorithms that will allow nurses to give advice as to where the patient should go for a particular medical problem,” Harap said. “We’re very excited about the rollout of the Nurse Advice Line and improvements it will have on the medical care we provide in military treatment facilities.”
Patients can contact the Nurse Advice Line starting May 30 at 1-800-TRICARE.