The Defense Health Agency is continuing to adapt to treat patients with innovations such as expansion of telehealth, new online tools and revised pharmacy procedures, they said on a CMSI town hall Tuesday.
Telehealth options now include audio-only sessions for patients or providers who do not have access to secure video connections. Co-pays are being waived for all telehealth sessions.
DHA is encouraging patients to use guidance and tools on the TRICARE website, including an upcoming feature that will allow patients to enter their symptoms and get care recommendations. Those resources and the agency’s hotlines continue to support patients with a wide range of issues, not just those related to COVID-19.
“All your medical needs are important to us,” said Regina Julian, chief of DHA’s health care optimization division.
Julian said clinics are still operational and have adjusted their procedures to ensure safe environments, but only about half of their appointments are being booked, because some people are delaying care.
“We are reaching out to look for patients who have urgent needs and asking them to come back in, and we can ensure their safety during appointments,” Julian said. “When patients start coming back in, we want to meet as many of their needs as possible at their next visit.”
While there was a brief shortage of three medications, the acting chief of DHA’s pharmaceutical operations said he sees no long-term forecast for medication shortages and hopes patients will continue taking their prescriptions, especially when many pharmacies are able to offer curbside pickup, designated pickup spots or delivery.
DHA leaders said forums such as the town hall and CMSI’s rolling Pain Points Poll are important to staying engaged with military families.
“This is your health care system and your health care plan,” DHA Chief of Staff Col. Shari Silverman told military families. “We need your feedback to make sure we’re getting things right.”