TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii--The Pacific Regional Dental Command has teamed with Tripler Army Medical Center to make access to dental care easier for Soldiers stationed in Hawaii. PRDC is automating the telephone system and offering dental text message appointment reminders.

Beginning Dec. 7, Soldiers will need only to dial "4DENTAL," or 433-6825, to reach any Army dental clinic in Hawaii, to include Schofield Barracks, Na Koa, and Tripler Army Medical Center dental clinics.

The two initiatives began in June 2011 as a Lean Six Sigma project launched by David Vreeland, chief, Strategy and Innovation, who is assigned to the Pacific Regional Dental Command headquarters.

"The days of dialing 10 different phone numbers in an effort to reach one of the three Army dental clinics located in Hawaii are over, " said Vreeland. "Soldiers will no longer hear a busy signal or the phone ringing endlessly without being answered. Soldiers will now select the clinic they are assigned to through an automated voice prompt system."

The Pacific Regional Dental Commander, Col. Randy Ball, is the U.S. Army Dental Command's strategic objective owner to increase access and continuity of care to our Warriors.

"One phone number for our patients to access any of our dental clinics will certainly simplify the process to reach my staff," said Ball. "We knew reaching our staff was at times difficult. Our intent is that by increasing the ability for Soldiers to contact our clinics will result in decreasing the appointments that are failed or unfilled. A phone call telling us you cannot make a scheduled dental appointment will enable us to give that appointment to another Soldier."

In conjunction with automating the telephone system, all dental clinics in Hawaii now offer Soldiers the ability to schedule their annual exams by phone. Soldiers will no longer have to use walk-in sick call hours and incur long wait times in the clinics to get their annual exam completed.
The original clinic phone numbers will remain active until April 1, 2012 but will play a voice message reminding patients of our new telephone number -- 4DENTAL (433-6825).

"(Text reminders) have been used at Schofield Barracks Health Clinic for over a year," Vreeland added. "The system is the work of Lt. Col. Germaine Oliver, Schofield Barracks Health Clinic, who assisted us to offer the same service to our dental patients assigned in Hawaii. We asked our patients what they want and they want text message reminders. We will send a text message reminder out to those patients that consented to receive the text 24 hours before their appointments and again 2 hours before their appointment."

"We will make every effort to ensure scheduled appointments are kept by our patients," said Ball. "Text messaging is today's Soldiers daily technology, so we adapted to the times and the needs our beneficiaries."

"We lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in lost appointment opportunities when our patients fail to keep their scheduled appointment," said Vreeland.

Both Ball and Vreeland said the purpose of these advances is to increase the readiness of the war fighters here in Hawaii.