Friday, January 05, 2018

Survey Indicates Higher Satisfaction With Military Medical Facilities

By David Vergun Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2018 — Results of the Defense Department’s Joint Outpatient Experience Survey, or JOES, are in for 2017, and soldiers, retirees and family members reported very high overall satisfaction -- 93 percent -- with their experience at Army medical treatment facilities, the senior health policy analyst with the Office of the Army Surgeon General said.
Staff at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., treat patients. The 2017 results of the Defense Department’s Joint Outpatient Experience Survey show an increase in patient satisfaction with military medical facilities and pharmacy care.

Melissa Gliner said the other two big metrics are ease of access to Army providers, which was rated 83 percent positive, the highest in the military health services, and overall experience with Army pharmacies, which was rated 78 percent positive.

The results of the survey show an overall increase in satisfaction of about 2 percent for those three questions compared to 2016, the year the Army first participated in the survey, she said.

Strict Confidentiality

About 2.7 million surveys go out annually to about 10 percent of patients who have visited a military health facility in a random selection process, she said. At first, only paper surveys were distributed, but since last month, a website has been set up for taking the two-page survey.

Strict confidentiality is maintained at all times, she added.

Gliner, a statistician by training, said she interprets the results and shares them with representatives from all of the military health facilities regularly. The facilities’ staffs are eager to learn the survey results and understand what's working and what can be improved, she said.

One incentive for getting high survey scores is a monetary award that's given to the best-performing military health facilities, Gliner noted, adding that performance reviews are tied to the results.

Improving the Patient Experience

Besides sharing the results with the facilities, Gliner said, she also offers advice on ways to improve the patient experience. For instance, she said, she looks at civilian treatment facilities to see what works well and then shares that information. Among these insights is having staff members circulate in the waiting area to chat with patients so they don't feel they're being ignored, which Gliner said is one way to elevate scores.

Another finding from the survey was that some patients experience frustration during their initial call to schedule an appointment, with some being told to call back because there were no appointments. Some military health facilities are now retraining clerks who take the calls to get the appointments set up without the patient having to call back, she said.

Gliner said the U.S. Army Medical Command is working to stand up a website that will better help military health facilities to share their ideas and further elevate patient experience and survey scores.

Mattis Welcomes Esper as Army Secretary During Ceremonial Swearing-In

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2018 — During a ceremonial welcome for Army Secretary Mark T. Esper at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes today, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said the U.S. Military Academy graduate is the best person to lead the service forward.

Esper, who has been on the job since Nov. 20, also had a ceremonial welcome today at nearby Fort Myer.

Mattis joked during the Pentagon welcome, telling Esper’s wife, Leah, that the job entails a cut in pay, long hours and no holidays.

Esper graduated from West Point in 1986 and served with the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Desert Storm, where he earned the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

He transferred to the reserve components, and retired as a lieutenant colonel. He earned advanced degrees from Harvard University and the George Washington University, and he served with the Heritage Foundation, in the Defense Department, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the House Armed Services Committee, and, since 2010, was a senior executive of the Raytheon Co.

Making U.S. Military More Lethal, Capable

The Army secretary’s experiences will benefit the service, Mattis said. “What we are out to do right now is make the U.S. military more lethal and more capable,” he added.

Still, Mattis said, civilian leaders are not chosen for their past performance. “That is all prelude,” he explained. “What we have here is someone we are confident can take the Army forward, that has the right value system [and] understands if something is not contributing to lethality, it is going into the dustbin of history … very, very quickly.”

Mattis stressed that the defense of the United States, the defense and protection of its citizens and the values they hold dear is a nonpartisan issue. “The bottom line is the virtuous and vile alike have written history, but let’s remember here today that we’re the good guys … and this is the man who can take us forward,” the defense secretary said.

Esper told Mattis that the Army leadership is on the same wavelength as he is and understands what he wants the Army to do. “We all understand the rigors of wartime, we understand the importance of training and being prepared for combat, and we are all prepared to make sure that our country, our Army, is ready should we be called upon again,” he said.

Leading the Army “is a homecoming for me,” Esper said, adding that he can think of no greater honor than holding the job.

Top Priorities

But there are challenges, he said, and he promised to face them. Readiness is an issue, and he said that is first and foremost in his mind: “being prepared to fight that hard, long, high-intensity fight.”

Following that, he said, he will concentrate on building the capacity and capabilities the Army needs to maintain its leading role in the future.

The Army secretary said his third priority is reform and freeing up the time, money and manpower to concentrate on the top two priorities.

Overarching these priorities is “taking care of our soldiers, our civilians and their families, because they are the backbone of our service,” and living by the Army values, Esper said.

“I have become convinced over time that a rededication to those values – treating everyone with dignity and respect and doing the right thing – serves the Army, the military and the country well in the long run,” he added.

Face of Defense: Reservist’s Military, Civilian Job Responsibilities Match

By Air Force Senior Airman Tara Abrahams, 940th Air Refueling Wing

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Jan. 5, 2018 — For many reservists, work life does not end when they take off the uniform. Air Force Maj. Francis J. Tobias is one of these airmen. Aside from a change of setting and suit and tie, his profession remains the same.

“I do the exact same job; I just change clothes,” he said.

In uniform, Tobias serves as the director of equal opportunity for the 940th Air Refueling Wing here. In his civilian position, he is the vice president of human resources for the California Dental Association.

This wasn’t always the case though. It took years of patience before Tobias was able to put his two careers together.

It started when he joined ROTC as a freshman with an undeclared major. Shortly into his first year, his detachment commander told him he needed to pick a major to stay in the program.

Tobias was handed a list of majors and began reading through it. It was full of technical studies and a few foreign languages, but none of them was sparking his interest. He continued reading until he reached the last subject on the page: personnel.

“What's personnel?” he asked.

Human Resources

The commander told him it was the study of human resources management. Tobias thought it may be interesting, but in the end, he said, he chose it because it had the least amount of units needed to graduate. But after his first course, he knew he made the right decision.

“I took HR 101 and fell in love with it,” he said.

His passion for helping people fit perfectly with the supportive nature of the career field. “Whatever I do is to help someone else, and that’s what I love about it,” he explained.

When it came time to commission, the demand for personnel officers had decreased. Tobias followed the needs of the Air Force to a logistics position.

On the civilian side, he continued with what he studied, holding various human resources jobs and growing into more advanced positions. Now that he’s the California Dental Association’s vice president of human resources, he and his team provide services to 28,000 dentists across the state.

Human resources services, like equal opportunity in the military, help to develop leadership skills and keep the work environment running efficiently. Both provide training, raise awareness and remove any and all unprofessional, discriminatory and harassing behavior. HR also offers assistance with hiring, recruiting, reviews and benefits.

Civilian, Military Careers Align

About 10 years after entering the human resources career field, Tobias was presented a chance to become an Air Force Reserve personnel officer. He was thrilled.

“The opportunity to connect both my civilian and military careers in this way was both a blessing and a privilege,” the major said. “I felt doing the same job would allow me to grow, both personally and professionally, and this growth would allow for me to be a better support for all those I would help.”

Helping is what equal opportunity focuses on. Tobias and his team strive to enhance mission readiness and ensure all Beale reservists have positive work environments. Airmen are encouraged to reach out to his office and speak up about any difficulties they may be facing.

“We welcome all problems,” he said. “We want [airmen] to feel if they have an issue, they have somewhere to go.”

In addition to mediating problems, equal opportunity also gives briefings during wing commander's calls and organizes activities to foster healthy workplace communications.

“Without positive human relations, it is very detrimental and makes the mission difficult to complete,” Tobias said. “If a member is facing discriminatory behavior, there's no way we can expect that airman to do their job, much less even want to be in the Air Force... If that [behavior] persists, the mission stops.”
Workplace problems can arise in any environment and are often stressful, but rest assured there is always someone to lean on. In or out of uniform, Tobias and his passion for supporting others will help keep the mission running smoothly.