On DoD: Pentagon’s new nurse advice line closes gap in after-hours medical care for military members

On this week’s edition of On DoD, Regina Julian, the chief of primary care for the Defense Health Agency joins Jared Serbu to talk about DoD’s new nurse advice line.

Up until about a year ago, beneficiaries of DoD’s TRICARE system who get their primary care from a military treatment facility had very few options if they happened to get sick or injured on a night or weekend: either wait until business hours to try to get an appointment or go to the emergency room.

But the DHA has taken a cue from many private insurers and created its own 24/7 phone service, staffed by registered nurses. The idea is to help patients determine whether they need care right away, whether they can wait for an appointment, or whether a couple ibuprofen will suffice.

Early statistics show the service is making a difference: Out of half million calls taken so far, 57 percent of the callers had planned on going to the ER or an urgent care center, but after talking with a nurse, only 24 percent of them actually did. DHA estimates that on average, each call to the advice line saves the military medical system $92.

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