You could improve your access to health care appointments by showing up for the appointments that you've already scheduled.
An appointment no-show is defined as an individual — Soldier, retiree or family member — who misses or is significantly late to an appointment without canceling or rescheduling. Currently at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center, the appointment no-show rate is about 13 percent, far above the 5 percent tolerance set by U.S. Army Medical Command standards.
So far this year, Kimbrough has had about 7,300 patient appointment no-shows.
Appointment no-shows limit access to care for other patients and disrupt continuity of care. Those who cancel their appointments in a timely manner allow their reserved appointment space to be given to another patient, and patients who reschedule their appointments are less likely to need more and costly emergency care down the line.
Tricare Online, or TOL, offers the ability to make and cancel appointments 24/7. Patients are able to see and schedule real-time appointments and book an appointment in as little as two hours in advance. TOL also allows for real-time appointment cancellations, which automatically reopen for available booking.
In addition, patients can view and print future appointments, access their medical records with the “blue button,” refill prescriptions and set up appointment reminders.
During the month of August, TOL is making many updates that will improve the functionality of the system. TOL will add a function that allows patients to reschedule appointments, view past appointments, and schedule earlier appointment notifications via text messaging and email.
“It's really easy now, just four clicks of my mouse and I am at the appointment page,” said Linda Assur, Kimbrough's chief of Appointing Operations. “From there it's just three easy steps to schedule that appointment. I like it because I am able to actually see the available appointments and pick the one that works best for me, versus an agent telling me what they have.”
Studies show that patients who schedule with TOL are more likely to keep or properly cancel their appointment. According to Assur, TOL is the superior method of scheduling and canceling appointments.
“Our call center is only open from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,” Assur said. “We can receive up to 100 calls an hour on a Monday morning, and a patient can wait in the queue for up to eight minutes before we are able to take their call.”
The Kimbrough staff considers their patients important members of the team, and urges each of them to sign up for TOL tricareonline.com.
Patients also can call the appointment line at 301-677-8800 to make and cancel appointments.
Patients should remember that if they are unable to attend a scheduled appointment, they should call or go online to cancel, because “an appointment missed by you, is an appointment missed by two.”