News>TOPA - Med Group consolidates TRICARE functions into one area at Edwards clinic
From left: Wanita Williams, 95th Medical Group facility manager, Lt. Col. Ronald Merchant 95th Medical Support Squadron commander, Lyn King, 95th MDG TRICARE Operations and Patient Administration Flight beneficiary counselor, Maj. Thomas Liscomb, 95th MDSS TOPA Flight commander, Col. Janet Taylor, 95th MDG commander and Senior Master Sgt. Mario Aceves, 95th Medical Operations Squadron superintendant are happy to officially open the new TOPA area, April 22, located on the first floor of the Edwards medical clinic. The area will allow for the consolidation of TRICARE functions that were previously spread out between two floors. (Air Force photo by Kate Blais)
Lt. Col. Ronald Merchant, 95th Medical Support Squadron commander, addresses base leadership, desert medics and beneficiaries in a speech to open the new TRICARE Operations and Patient Administration Flight area, April 22. The new area, located on the first floor of the medical clinic, features consolidated customer support in one area. (Air Force photo by Kate Blais)
4/27/2011 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 95th Medical Group officially opened the newly consolidated TRICARE Operations and Patient Administration Flight area, located on the first floor of the Edwards Medical Clinic April 22.
"This new area is a vast improvement over the previous setup," said Maj. Thomas Lipscomb, 95th Medical Support Squadron TOPA Flight commander. "We have been able to consolidate multiple functions that were previously spread out between both floors of the clinic into a single location."
The new consolidation features "one stop customer support for all," said Lt. Col. Ronald Merchant, 95th MDSS commander. Patients can meet with the customer service representative and be brought back to patient administration personnel without switching floors or offices.
"The central appointments line has also been relocated to the TOPA work center," the colonel said. "This move was necessary due to the fact that our patient administration staff is responsible for providing immediate customer support to our appointment line during peak call times or periods when our appointment staff is absent or on leave. We've already seen a reduction in abandoned calls due to long hold times because of this improved coordination."
According to Major Lipscomb, most administrative needs can be met at the new office, including referral processing and tracking; health benefits; medical evaluation board processing; permanent change of station, separation and retirement medical out-processing; outpatient records requests; and other health insurance or third-party collection updates.
"We have already seen a positive impact on our beneficiaries," Major Lipscomb said. "We have seen greater than a 50 percent reduction in patient foot traffic on the second floor of the clinic and we expect this number to increase over time as patients become more accustomed to the new location."
The new TOPA area had previously served as the pediatric waiting area, patient administration and other administration offices not related to TOPA.
"We believe that our beneficiaries will see the greatest benefits from this investment," Colonel Merchant said.