Medics move into cyber world Published Dec. 8, 2006 By Lt. Col. Rex Langston 48th Medical Support Squadron commander ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- One of the first things we tell newcomers to the 48th Medical Support Squadron, besides how lucky they are to be part of a truly exceptional 48th Medical Group and historic and storied 48th Fighter Wing, is how vitally important it is for us to provide the utmost in customer service to our population. We have the awesome responsibility and solemn duty to care for the most important part of the Air Force war-fighting machine--our Airmen. An important aspect of assuring our war-fighting machine is ready to fight and win is to ensure Airmen and their families are healthy and well cared for. Over the years, the Air Force Medical Service has instituted a number of initiatives designed to increase the quality and availability of health care for our beneficiary population. In the early 1990s we adopted the practice of assigning a pool of patients to a specific provider. This allows the providers the opportunity to not only treat the acute episodes of care but to become better acquainted with their patients' treatment and foster a more conducive health care experience. The initiative gives the patient assurance they can see the same provider for an extended period of time, if not for the entire duration of their assignment. Recently, we instituted the electronic medical record system, called AHLTA to the AFMS. AHLTA is used throughout the military health care system and will eventually replace paper medical records. You will no longer need to collect your medical record upon a permanent change of station or deployment. Your pertinent health care information will be available, when required, online at any time and at any place in the world. I'd also like to share with you some details on another advance, Tricare Online. Tricare Online is not a new weapon in the AFMS arsenal, but a new one to the Liberty Wing. Tricare Online is a Web-based application which, when fully functional, will allow our customers the option of seeking an appointment with our facility at any time, day or night. You will no longer be required to wait until the appointment lines open to make a medical appointment for you or one of your loved ones, or wait on hold for the appointment clerk to reach you. To participate in Tricare Online, you must be enrolled with the 48th MDG. If you or your family, are not yet enrolled, a quick visit to our Tricare office can remedy that situation. Beginning in January, we will offer appointments in Family Practice, Pediatrics, Flight Medicine and Internal Medicine through Tricare Online. In the future, we hope to expand the program's capability to schedule any required routine follow-up visits in our specialty clinics. You will have the opportunity to make appointments in the following categories of care: acute appointments within 24 hours, routine appointments within the next seven days, and well appointments up to 28 days in the future. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. Simply go to www.tricare.mil, follow the prompts, register and you're set. Each enrolled patient must have an account. Establishment of an account can be accomplished in six short steps on the site. Tricare Online offers medical treatment facility and region information, announcements and news features. The site also offers a number of unique benefits. There is a link to "Self-Assessment Tools," containing a section on healthy-living calculators, health-risk assessors and anatomy navigators. The healthy-living calculator gives you access to an activity calculator, where you can enter your weight and how many calories you would like to burn. The tool will tell you which activities to focus on and how long you'll have to do them to burn the calories desired. The health risk assessor lists health-risks and, based upon the information you provide, will assess your risk for developing certain diseases or conditions, giving you a host of health information at your fingertips. Through the use of the anatomy navigator, you have access to an interactive graphical representation of the muscular and skeletal systems of the body; you can select a particular area and explore it from the front or back. You can also use the condition navigator tool to select an area of the body which enables you to view diseases and conditions associated with that part of the body. The 48th MDG is dedicated to ensuring you and your family have the best health care experience possible. We are committed to customer service and proud to have the opportunity to serve the best customers in the world. I hope you will take a moment and go to the Tricare Online Web site. Register and give the site a spin.