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Beneficiary Town Hall meant to strengthen relationship with patients

Col. Shari Silverman, 88th Medical Group commander, address the final Beneficiary Town Hall in the Medical Center Auditorium. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)
Col. Shari Silverman, 88th Medical Group commander, address the final Beneficiary Town Hall in the Medical Center Auditorium. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)

Col. Shari Silverman, 88th Medical Group commander, recently hosted her last Beneficiary Town Hall in the Medical Center Auditorium.

The event was open to all base active-duty members, dependents, retirees and retiree family members.

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Silverman and her staff meet regularly with their beneficiaries to further strengthen the relationship between her team and those who receive care at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center.

Various topics were discussed during the town hall, including the Family Health RESET, changes to Humana and pharmacy news. A question-and-answer session followed the formal portion of the event.

During her opening remarks, Silverman stressed the importance of keeping scheduled appointment times and letting the clinic know if a patient wouldn’t be able to make their scheduled appointment.

She addressed recent weather-related events by mentioning the disconnect beneficiaries were experiencing by being turned around at the gate and sent home due to base closure, even though the Medical Center was open for business.

“We’ve worked through the communication problems we had with our Security Forces folks regarding the base closure issues, and we shouldn’t experience any more confusion in the future,” said Silverman.

She also spoke about the patient focus groups hosted by the Medical Group and asked that people get involved in the program, which is designed to help improve patient services throughout the Medical Center.

Silverman also told the group that due to recent staffing problems in the physical therapy clinic she was forced to make the decision to see only active-duty military at the medical center for physical therapy appointments. Everyone else would be referred for physical therapy service at clinics off of Wright-Patterson.

“I’m a physical therapist by trade and have pulled some shifts in the clinic, and even by doing that I wasn’t able to make a dent in their patient load. So, we’ll regrettably have to curtail who we see in our clinic until we experience some staffing relief, which will hopefully occur sometime in the coming September timeframe,” said Silverman.

Family Health

Family Health medical director Col. Mary Guest spoke to the audience about changes occurring in her section.

“In order to accommodate our increasing patient load, we’ve added time to our clinic hours. We’re now open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.,” said Guest.

Also, as part of the clinic’s reset, patients will have better continuity with their primary care manager, Guest explained.

“We will no longer arbitrarily cross book patients; they will stay with their PCM. If the PCM deploys, or otherwise becomes unavailable, we will work with their patient load to ensure that they stay connected in the process, and help them shift to another PCM if the need arises,” said Guest.

She also explained some innovative ways to get faster service, while decreasing the need to book face-to-face appointments.

“There are several ways to receive service from our clinic, and often a patient doesn’t really need to be seen face-to-face by their PCM. The Air Force has recently launched a virtual appointment option, which takes less time and speeds up the process of getting some issues resolved. A patient can also request a telephone appointment, or they can use secure messaging to communicate with their PCM,” said Guest.

Humana

Douglas Bonner, managed care support liaison, and Ken Kirkland, benefits advisor, explained some changes affecting TRICARE beneficiaries.

Congress passed legislation last year which enacted changes to TRICARE.

• TRICARE’s Extra and Standard plans were rolled into one system known as TRICARE Select.

• TRICARE is managed in two regions now instead of three. The Wright-Patterson AFB region falls into TRICARE East and is managed by Humana Military.

• The annual enrollment fee timing switched from the fiscal year system to the calendar year system, meaning that the catastrophic caps will reset in January beginning in 2018.

• Beneficiaries may enroll and dis-enroll throughout 2018 but will revert to an annual open enrollment period only beginning in 2019.

• TRICARE retiree dental plan ends in December

• Beginning in January 2019 dental and vision plans can be purchased through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

For more information on any TRICARE related questions, visit www.humanamilitary.com

Pharmacy

Pharmacy flight commander Col. Corey Munro provided some update highlights to the town hall attendees. He also gave some tips on receiving service from the pharmacy.

“We’ve managed to stabilize the wait times at the pharmacy with improved staffing. Our busiest times during the day are between 10 to 11 a.m., and then again from 2 to 3 p.m. If you can plan around those times you should experience shorter wait times,” said Munro.

“The Kittyhawk satellite pharmacy tends to be busier the latter part of the week,” he added.

“Additionally, we’ve instituted a check in and leave program, where you can check in at the pharmacy, then come back to pick up your prescription after two hours, so you no longer have to wait for your prescription to be filled,” said Munro.

The e-prescription process has also improved explained Munro.

“We reduced the steps for outside providers to send in prescription and are encouraging folks to use the electronical filling process,” he said.

Munro also noted that the new Kittyhawk Pharmacy project is on schedule and should open on time in early 2019.

During her closing remarks, Silverman explained that the Medical Group has been in a state of continuous process improvement with more than 284 process improvement events last year alone, driving toward a trusted care culture. She especially thanked the patient focus groups for their help with that effort and encouraged everyone in attendance to get involved with the focus groups.

“It has been my honor to be your Medical Group commander here at Wright-Patt and to serve this community,” said Silverman.

The next Town Hall is currently scheduled for some time in September.

For questions regarding the Town Hall, please contact 2nd Lt. Travis Callihan at 937-257-9160 or travis.callihan@us.af.mil, and Cindy Andersen at 937-257-9131 or synthie.andersen@us.af.mil.