By U.S. ArmyJune 11, 2015
HONOLULU, Hawaii (June, 11, 2015) -- It always seems to happen at the most inconvenient time or place. A worrisome health issue comes up and you've got questions. If only you had a medical professional standing by to answer your immediate questions over the phone no matter when or where.
Enter - the TRICARE Nurse Advice Line.
The Nurse Advice Line (NAL), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, launched on Oahu last year and has connected TRICARE beneficiaries with registered nurses to obtain professional medical advice.
Since then, the NAL has helped many beneficiaries in a time of need.
Registered nurses (RN) are readily available to answer a variety of urgent healthcare questions and help beneficiaries decide whether self-care is the best option or if it's better to see a healthcare provider.
"The NAL is a great resource for new mothers who need advice about caring for their baby or have a concern but are not sure if they should call the doctor, said Marsha Graham, Pacific Regional Medical Command (PRMC) Army Medical Home nursing consultant.
Yvonne Harrington is a mom who recently used NAL and couldn't agree more.
Harrington's 6-year-old daughter had a painful, ruptured eardrum over a four day holiday weekend. "As her condition changed over the weekend, I was unsure if she needed to be seen. I called the NAL and was triaged by an RN. During that call, she scheduled us to be seen at Schofield Barracks Urgent Care. The staff at Schofield Barracks Urgent Care were great and the process was convenient and efficient. I would never hesitate to use the NAL in the future."
Another beneficiary, Margo Kwasnoski says she recently used the advice line and found it to be an easy, convenient and professional service. "The nurse was so nice and they even followed up with me twice, 48 hours after. I would recommend it."
Callers of the toll-free number can expect a customer service representative to verify eligibility before being connected with an experienced and trained registered nurse who will ask a series of standard questions, allowing them to provide the best advice possible.
NAL also has the potential of decreasing emergency room visits to only true emergencies.
"The NAL soft-launched in 12 medical facilities where 95 percent of the callers had an intention of going to the Emergency Department. Once the nurse helped them navigate through their symptoms, 51 percent ended up just needing self-care with 20 percent needing same-day appointments or urgent care."
The advice line has other benefits as well.
"NAL has provided additional support for Army families in transition during the PCS months, helping them to find urgent healthcare in unfamiliar new places," Graham said.
The NAL can also work in tandem with another TRICARE tool, TRICARE Online Portal. These two tools give beneficiaries the ability to take charge of their own healthcare. When used together beneficiaries are able to look up their own health information, make referrals, and even communicate with providers from the comfort of their home.
To access the NAL, dial 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273); Option 1.