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NEW ORLEANS – August 05, 2010 Meeting the healthcare needs of 9.6 million TRICARE beneficiaries is the goal – the first time, and every time. That message resonated loud and clear as more than 500 Military Health System beneficiary customer service and communications staff gathered in New Orleans for the 2010 TRICARE Communications and Customer Service (C & CS) conference Aug. 3-5. They gathered to network, learn about changes to military health care benefits and focus on providing the best possible service to their customers.
“Congratulations on the role you play in meeting the needs of our patients,” said keynote speaker, Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of TRICARE Management Activity.
Hunter discussed a broad range of topics including TRICARE and national health care reform, behavioral health care, and improving access to care. She also talked about the concept of the medical home and the “quadruple aim,” which focuses on delivering quality health care, a quality patient experience and responsibly managing costs – all leading to readiness.
“As an organization we are now focusing much more on patient-centered care,” she said. “Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of creativity on the ‘front lines’ of military health care. We’re doing a better job of meeting patient needs, and as a result we see satisfaction going up.”
With an eye toward gaining information they can take back to directly assist beneficiaries, participants at the TRICARE conference learn about wounded warrior care, National Guard and Reserve benefits, referrals and authorizations, how TRICARE works with Medicare and veterans’ benefits, among other critical topics.
A worldwide network of military health care customer service staff including beneficiary counselors at military medical facilities, TRICARE service centers, regional call centers, education specialists and more handle millions of beneficiary questions each year – by phone and in person. Questions can range from general benefit information and how to file claims, to getting appointments and “what’s covered?”
The annual C & CS conference provides an opportunity to make great customer service even better. Jake Poore, a motivational speaker with extensive Walt Disney Co., customer service training experience, challenged attendees to remember their role of helping people during what can often be very difficult times. “We need to treat all our customers as VIPs – Very Individual People,” he said.
Poore shared simple but important messages about helping people – always smile and look customers in the eye; greet people by name and take the time to listen carefully and fully answer questions. He also challenged military health care leaders to make emphasizing the “human element” a standard across the entire organization.
For TRICARE beneficiaries, the newly redesigned TRICARE Web site can help make connecting to the human element easier through the link at www.tricare.mil/contactus.