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CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — Tricare Prime and Plus patients will soon be able to book routine and follow-up appointments with the click of a button.

Prime and Plus are two managed care options within Tricare, the Department of Defense’s worldwide health care program, that give beneficiaries varying levels of care-provider options based on the program in which they are enrolled.

Tricare Online is up and running, but the new scheduling procedure won’t be active until Jan. 15, said Arlita McClintock, Tricare marketing representative at Naval Hospital Okinawa.

The system will be available on Guam, Hawaii, mainland Japan and Okinawa, though each area may have a different start date, she said. Acute and emergency appointments cannot be made through the new system.

Only Prime and Plus customers can use the online booking, she said. To do so, they must log on to www.tricareonline.com and get a password.

McClintock said each family member must have their own password for privacy of medical information. “You can make up to four appointments per family member, up to 45 days out,” McClintock said. “When you make an appointment, you see what the appointment clerk sees. If you’re both trying to book the same appointment, whoever hits enter first gets it. It’s real time.”

While McClintock said online appointments are the greatest benefit to Prime and Plus members, she said there are plenty of other services.

The Web site has links to 18 million pages of health and wellness information, McClintock said. There are also sections where patients can keep a personal health journal, read the latest information on staying healthy and check medications for side effects and possible harmful interactions.

There’s even a “fun,” educational area for children to learn about the human body, she said.

Another benefit is the ability to learn about symptoms and health conditions and when to seek treatment, McClintock said. This portion of the site works much like calling a nurse advice line.

“It tells you what to do, when to seek treatment and how to treat,” McClintock said. “They can access information and help themselves at their convenience and in the privacy of their own home.”

Clients also are able to view information on the various doctors at each facility and learn about them and their practice. Doctor’s hours and phone numbers are included.

To find out more on Tricare online, contact your local Tricare office.

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