Nurse Advice Line to Help TRICARE Beneficiaries

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Story Number: NNS140623-21Release Date: 6/23/2014 3:15:00 PM

By Deborah R. Kallgren, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Starting June 27, TRICARE beneficiaries in Hampton Roads will have access to a new tool to help them decide whether they need to seek immediate care.

The Nurse Advice Line will be available 24/7 to all TRICARE beneficiaries by calling 1-800-TRICARE (option 1). Callers will be connected to a team of registered nurses who can answer a variety of urgent health care questions. They can help the patient decide whether self-care is the best option, or if it they should see a health care provider.

First, the beneficiary's eligibility through DEERS will be verified. Then, a registered nurse will ask the beneficiary a series of questions to provide the best advice possible.

If the beneficiary has a question about their child, the beneficiary will be routed to a pediatric nurse. If follow up is needed, the beneficiary will be called back later to check the child's status. The nurse can make same-day appointments for TRICARE beneficiaries enrolled to a military hospital or clinic. If a same-day appointment is not available, the nurse will direct the beneficiary to the closest urgent care center, and advise their primary care manager that a referral is needed so the patient won't have point-of-service co-pays. TRICARE beneficiaries not enrolled to a military hospital or clinic will receive professional health advice and whether to seek urgent care.

Beneficiaries can still call their PCM or clinic, but the Nurse Advice Line is another option for patients, especially after hours or on the weekend.

The Nurse Advice Line may also reduce the number of unnecessary Emergency Room visits. More than a quarter of all ER visits are generally for non-emergency issues. National estimates for civilian care indicate that one-half of all ER patients would have seen a primary care doctor had one been available. Unnecessary ER and Urgent Care visits cause longer wait times for patients, additional workload for staff, additional stress on resources, and higher costs to the Military Health System. The Nurse Advice Line will help direct non-emergency and non-urgent visits to routine providers relieving strain on the ER system as well as increasing beneficiary access to their primary care manager or urgent care facilities.

For up-to-date information on NMCP and its branch clinics, visit www.med.navy.mil/sites/NMCP, www.facebook.com/NMCPortsmouth and www.navy.mil/local/NMCP/.

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