New system will help beneficiaries manage specialty care referrals

by Ashley Patoka Regional Health Command Europe Public Affairs

Regional Health Command Europe will implement a new referral reminder system for patients who have a referral for specialty care beginning Nov. 30.

The new process will apply to all patients who are being referred for specialty care. These patients will receive automated phone calls from their military treatment facility reminding them to make an appointment with an MTF specialist or host nation specialist.

“This new system is beneficial to the patient because it will remind our beneficiaries to make their specialty care appointment at a time that may be more convenient for them,” said Lt. Col. Michelle Gradnigo, Regional Health Command Europe chief of managed care.

The implementation of this new process is an effort to prevent routine conditions from becoming chronic, enhance patient satisfaction and decrease the number of unused referrals.

For patients with a referral, automated calls will be received at the phone number listed in the clinic’s medical record system. Patients can expect an automated call once their referral has aged to two days, 7 days, 14 days and then again at day 20.

“The automated system will remind patients that might have forgotten about their referrals to make an appointment which fits into their busy schedule,” Gradnigo said. “Approximately 20 to 30 percent of all referrals are not activated or used by patients. When a beneficiary misses a specialty care appointment, that appointment is an opportunity cost, which may negatively impact the health of the patient and subsequent treatment options.”

The automated system also provides patients with an option to cancel their referral or be directly connected to the MTF during business hours to book their appointment. Additionally, the patients will be reminded to provide the details of their civilian specialty appointments to assist the MTF with obtaining their host nation medical reports.

Currently, MTFs manually call patients to see if they used or will use their referral. In some cases, if the MTF cannot successfully reach patients who have civilian specialty referrals, they call the civilian specialist to determine if the patient was seen, according to Gradnigo.

All patients will receive a total of four automated reminders for each referral. Patients can interrupt the call schedule by responding to the automated call survey, contacting the MTF to report the appointment date and the name of the specialist the appointment is with, or by letting the MTF know that the referral will not be used.

“We hope that this new system will make the referral process easier for our beneficiaries. Regional Health Command Europe is constantly striving to improve our practices and provide the best health care for our Soldiers and their families,” Gradnigo said.

For more information, contact your clinic’s managed care office.