By Douglas DeMaio, Bavaria Medical Department Activity Public AffairsMarch 14, 2012
VILSECK, Germany -- Making an appointment at a health clinic is becoming easier thanks to the installation of kiosks at Bavaria Medical Department Activity health clinics.
The kiosks, which will be operational the coming weeks at health clinics in Grafenwoehr and here, are expected to give patients a more convenient way of scheduling medical appointments.
"This provides a more rapid and flexible opportunity for beneficiaries to get an appointment," said Maj. Travis Pamenter, logistics chief for Bavaria Medical Department Activity. "The intent behind the kiosks is to provide a more convenient approach for the beneficiaries in the Bavarian MEDDAC footprint to be able to establish both initial appointments as well as follow up appointments."
Users can schedule follow-up appointments immediately after a consultation at their clinic, Pamenter said.
"Now that this kiosk will be available, it would be beneficial for them to go to that kiosk to try and make that appointment… because appointments do fill up really fast for some types of specialties," he said.
The kiosk, which is which networked with Tricare Online, has a user-friendly operating system, Pamenter said.
"Just like any new software system - I don't care if it is Microsoft or whatever, if it is your first time using it, it can be somewhat challenging, but after you have used it a couple times, it really is relatively user friendly," he said.
Finding appointments on the kiosk through Tricare Online is as simple as changing some of the options, said Sgt. 1st Class Juan Olivarez, who works as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Clinical Operations for BMEDDAC. Yet, people should be attentive when scheduling appoints through the Tricare Online service.
"I have not made an appointment on the phone for primary care for more than year," Olivarez said. "I have always been able to find an appointment. If you look for routine appointments, you are widening the search."
Some irregularities might exist on the kiosks when scheduling specialty appointments like an eye or wellness appointment, he said. Since the secure web portal is coupled with Tricare Online and the server services all of Europe, people may see appoints for other locations. Users should look at the location of an appointment before scheduling it.
Users review and confirm their appointment, but if an appointment for another location is accidently confirmed, Olivarez said the fix is easily changed.
"It's not really a big deal; if you make a mistake, you can just cancel it," Olivarez said.
Many of the issues that existed when Tricare Online launched have been resolved thanks to customer feedback, Olivarez said. The complaint that beneficiaries need to have different accounts for different people is one of the issues that was resolved.
"If you have children under the age of 18, they can be under one account," he said. "That way you don't need to have multiple accounts for your kids."
Just as customer feedback improved the Tricare Online service, Capt Kate E. Hamilton, the deputy chief of logistics BMEDDAC, expects it can do the same for the kiosks.
"When people are frustrated with it, there is a call line," Hamilton said. "It is only going to get better with customer feedback. If they don't know what is wrong, they don't know what is wrong."
Hamilton, who assisted with implementing the kiosk project, said standardizing the equipment was important ideal.
"This is pushing the standard so everyone in Bavaria can have the same type of access and the same type of system," she said.
The kiosks meet security and safety requirements and will be located in an open separate space at the clinics, Pamenter said.
"It's going to improve their access to care, which is something we are always striving to perform. This is just one of those steps forward… we are trying to make to our world-class health care," Pamenter said.
The same kiosks are scheduled to be installed at health clinics Bamberg, Hohenfels, Illesheim, Katterbach and Schweinfurt.