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JBSA-Lackland Airman recaptures thousands of dollars in orthotic services

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Carwile
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
In a climate where everyone is thinking of fiscal responsibility, the 59th Medical Wing considers it crucial to look for ways to save American taxpayer dollars while continuing to provide world-class health care.

This mindset is what led Staff Sgt. Taylor Hilliard, Business Innovation NCO in charge, to look at his regular job as an orthotic technician and ask questions about how much money was being spent on outsourced orthotic products.

"Our wing vice commander, Col. (Glenn) Yap, told me the clearest way to save money is to recapture leakage for services that are going downtown," said Hilliard. "So I asked if I could get a list of orthotic-related services that were being sent out."

The San Antonio Military Health System provided Hilliard with a list that showed about $700,000 worth of orthotic services are outsourced annually to medical firms in the local area. These products include anything from custom-made shoe inserts and leg braces to off-the-shelf, knee, ankle, wrist and back braces.

He then met with Master Sgt. Sean McClintock, the Orthopedic and Rehabilitation flight chief, to figure out why these services were not being done in-house.

"We met with (the) referral management (office), and looked at the policies and procedures we had in place to decide what was being done here and what was sent downtown," said Hilliard.

Working together, Hilliard and McClintock found ways to maximize the services that were available for patients on base and provided referral management with an expanded list of produts and services that the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center is able to provide.

"Wilford Hall's orthotic lab is the only military outpatient lab in San Antonio," said Hilliard. "While expenses for active-duty military members are typically covered, dependent family members aren't covered for outsourced custom orthotic products, which can cost patients up to $500 in out of pocket expenses.

"Plus, we are able to provide quality products with convenience for patients who work on or live near the base," he said.

As a result of Hilliard's innovative way to save money, the 59th MDW is now postured to reclaim about $150,000 in TRICARE money for orthotic services within the next year.

"Because of his insight, the wing is in a position to redirect vital health care dollars," said Maj. Janet Blanchard, chief of Business Innovation. "It's just one example of our commitment. We were able to find a way to save money and enhance the patient experience. We have to continue to think outside of the box to build a climate that is patient-centered."