NORTH CHICAGO, Ill –
The days of an applicant for enlistment in the All-Volunteer Force having to be scheduled by a Military Entrance Processing Station for an electrocardiogram at the office of a local consulting cardiologist are over.
On October 1, the United States Military Entrance Processing Command began taking advantage of a new telemedicine service offered by contractor Logistics Health Incorporated, or LHI, which provides EKG interpretation within a maximum of 72 hours. USMEPCOM aims to improve service to applicants and their recruiters while cutting costs.
Since USMEPCOM began using the service, 115 EKGs have been interpreted for applicants who are over 40 or suspected of having a heart issue at MEPS throughout the command.
The main benefit to the MEPS is “the time and cost savings, not needing a cardiology consult,” Lt. Col. John Balman, USMEPCOM Medical Plans and Policy Directorate chief of Clinical Operations Division, said.
Prior to Oct. 1, an applicant would receive an appointment with a local cardiologist. Appointments wait times varied from same day to 15 business days later. These appointments, paid for by the government, were costly not only in terms of dollars, but in applicant, recruiter, and MEPS time and effort as well. A waiting period involved additional travel and many times additional hotel stays. Additionally, the cardiologist’s report was typically received by the MEPS 5 working days later.
According to TC Allen, LHI assistant program manager for USMEPCOM, MEPS medical personnel now perform the EKG on the MEPS medical department and upload it to LHI’s online portal. LHI physicians interpret the EKG and electronically send the result to the MEPS Chief Medical Officer in an average of 24 hours. Finally, the Chief Medical Officer renders a qualification decision or requests an in-person consultation
A cardiologist consult costs around $300–$400, Alfredo Fuerte, USMEPCOM Medical Plans and Policy Directorate chief of Clinical Management Branch, said. The LHI EKG process costs less than $30, Allen said.