By Mr. David M White (Army Medicine)September 4, 2018
David M. White
Public Affairs Office
Eisenhower Army Medical Center
Eisenhower Army Medical Center typically books almost a half million health care appointments each year, delivering 5-Star care to Fort Gordon's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, retirees and their family members.
Last year more than 32,500 appointments were missed, skipped or patients simply didn't show up to keep them according to Toni Cosby, chief, Clinical Business Operations in the hospital's Resource Management Division. These appointments were across each of EAMC's facilities including EAMC's Primary Care clinics, TMC-4, Connelly Health Clinic, SOUTHCOM Clinic in Miami, and Rodriguez Army Health Clinic in Puerto Rico.
While that seems like a small number when compared to the overall, "no-shows" cost EAMC just over $116 per appointment in 2017, or about $3.8 million in earnings. "All missed appointments count against EAMC's bottom line but the cost is more than monetary," Cosby said. "Each missed appointment means someone else loses an opportunity to have an appointment. The result is that providers and clinic staff lose valuable patient-provider time."
EAMC makes every effort to remind patients 48 hours prior to their assigned appointment and, at that time, patients have the opportunity to cancel. The majority of canceled appointments are rescheduled, and unlike "no-shows," do not count against the bottom line. We are also looking for improved ways to communicate with patients through the use of Relay Health and TRICARE On-Line.
"EAMC continues to provide exceptional access to care for effective and high-quality urgent and routine care," Col. David Ristedt, EAMC's commanding officer, said. "We are also well within standards for specialty care access. Missed appointments degrade access and reduce our capability to delivery readiness to our troops and commanders. We are asking everyone to be diligent about managing their appointments and notifying us early if an appointment is no longer needed."
Sometimes last-minute conflicts do arise but it's always best to contact the clinic directly, visit www.tricareonline.com or call 1-706-787-7300.
"I thank everyone for continuing to trust EAMC as their choice for 5-Star care. With everyone's diligence and thoughtfulness, EAMC can sustain the appointments necessary to care for our beneficiaries and deliver readiness to the Joint Forces," Ristedt said. "We all make a significant difference in cost containment and making care available for other service members, family members and beneficiaries by our actions."