When Tech Meets Tried-and-True

When military families face health challenges or concerns we should never leave them guessing whether they’re seeking the appropriate care. A trip to the emergency room for an infant’s common cold can seem like an overreaction, but the risk of missing critical warning signs often outweighs the cost of “wait-and-see.” Fortunately, user-friendly, patient-facing technology solutions are giving patients the confidence and direction they need to find the appropriate level of care.

In 2013 TRICARE awarded a contract to a team led by Leidos that leveraged the world class capabilities of McKesson to provide improved access to healthcare for U.S-based military families, and also reduce unnecessary Emergency Room visits. Backed by Leidos’ 25 years of experience with the Military Health System, the team developed and nationally deployed a military-focused Nurse Advice Line (NAL) capability that connects military families with a team of nurses, doctors and appointment clerks to provide a broad range of healthcare services ranging from simple appointment scheduling to full nurse triage services.

Since its launch, the NAL has helped over 475,000 U.S.-based Military Health System beneficiaries by improving their access to and quality of care while reducing costs to patients and taxpayers. Over 13,000 Military Treatment Facility (MTF) appointments have been made through the NAL service and 55% of callers who might have gone straight to the emergency room for care, were appropriately triaged by licensed NAL nurse staff and directed to appropriate care facilities for timely treatment and care.

The TRICARE NAL is just one example of the positive difference healthcare technology can make in improving access to healthcare, improving the quality of healthcare, all while reducing the overall cost of healthcare. Jonathan Woodson, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, put it best by saying, “This is more than a service that increases satisfaction, or makes the appointment process more convenient. It ensures our patients get the right care at the right time. It is saving lives.”