Today, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Fort Polk, Louisiana, throws the switch that activates a new call center. This is a big step toward meeting Medical Command directives to answer calls within 90 seconds and to "appoint or refer" on one call. There will be some glitches at the beginning as the software is learned and employees get used to the new routines. Please bear with them. BJACH is committed to moving from "space available" to "utterly reliable" health care, and the integration of the phone appointment system is one important building block in that process.

The new phone system allows you to call one number, 531-3011, for pretty much anything you may need from the hospital. You can choose from options to get information, make or cancel routine appointments, get refills or leave messages for your health-care providers -- and in each case, the goal is to have you speaking with a person within 90 seconds.
One big improvement in the system is the addition of "triage nurses" to the call center. A problem with the old system was the way urgent appointments were handled. Some were booked on-line, some were booked by clerks without a nursing background, and still others were booked by triage nurses working separately. The result was that urgent appointments were given out on a "first-come, first-served" basis rather than clinical need. The triage nurses have specific guidelines to follow to help prioritize medical problems and ensure that the sickest are seen first.

It's pretty clear what "90 seconds to answer the phone" means. But what about that second MEDCOM directive -- "appoint or refer in one call'" The phone system is only one part of the solution. Other steps are the elimination of wait lists and callbacks. BJACH is gradually recruiting the provider staff to meet the needs of the community. In the meantime, the hospital relies heavily on network providers to fill the gaps. Rather than placing patients on wait lists, they will be immediately referred to local providers to avoid delays in care.

The big picture is that the Army has recognized, through the Army Family Covenant, that Army medical care for Families in a time of war is too big, and too important, to be a secondary mission for military staff between deployments, subject to the ebbs and flows of that battle rhythm. BJACH is building the base for a healthcare system that will be utterly reliable for Families in peace and war. That involves increased civilian hiring as well as better integration with network providers. But the first step is that first voice that answers the phone when you call. BJACH wants to provide the best service from the beginning.

The central appointment line is open from 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Report problems directly to Patient Advocacy at 531-3628/3880.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16