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Medical advice is now just a phone call away

Western Regional Medical Command

Published: 05:07PM May 8th, 2014

Next month, our Army will celebrate 239 years of protecting the freedoms that we enjoy in this nation and around the globe. Equally as long has been Army Medicine’s commitment to caring for the men and women who fight our nation’s wars.

As the Army Medical Department continues to transform to a System for Health that is designed to meet the 21st Century health care needs of service members, their families and retirees, the Military Health System (MHS) has introduced a new service that allows military beneficiaries to seek medical advice anytime of the day or night.

The Nurse Advice Line (NAL) is staffed by a team of professional registered nurses who provide medical advice on a variety of health-care related topics. The service is available 24/7 to all TRICARE beneficiaries here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and across the Department of Defense.

More than 9 million service members, their families and retirees are eligible to receive their care in Military Treatment Facilities around the world. Nearly 400,000 of those beneficiaries reside within the Western Regional Medical Command’s 20-state region, which includes Washington state.

Army Medicine recognizes that today’s military family is busy juggling many different priorities. And one of the benefits of the NAL is that it takes the guess work out of whether to seek care in the MTF or if self-care is the best option. Parents who call the NAL and have pediatric-related questions will be routed to a pediatric nurse for advice and a follow up call, if requested.

Service members, family members and retirees who call the NAL will first have their eligibility verified through the Defense Enrollment and Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Beneficiaries with an acute health care concern or question will be connected to a registered nurse who will ask a series of very standard questions to determine the next steps and allow the NAL nurse to provide the best advice possible.

I also want to point out that TRICARE beneficiaries who are not enrolled to an MTF will also be able to receive professional health advice about their urgent health concern and when to seek urgent care.

For more than 200 years, the enduring goal of Army Medicine has been to provide timely access to quality care, while inspiring all military beneficiaries to get their health care in our Military Treatment Facilities. As the MHS continues to enhance this new service, in the coming months, the NAL nurses will have the ability to make same-day appointments with the beneficiary’s primary care manager (PCM) located at the MTF. If a same-day appointment is not available, the NAL will re-direct the beneficiary to the closest urgent care center, and advise the patient’s PCM at the MTF that an urgent care referral is needed. This way, the patient does not have to worry about paying any point-of-service co-pays.

As beneficiaries of the world’s best health care system, I encourage you to take advantage of this service. Whatever your question or concern, medical advice is now just a phone call away, 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273) and select Option 1.