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New Website and App Seek to Streamline Army’s Exceptional Family Member Program

The Army is seeking feedback from families currently enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program regarding the new, centralized case management system, called the Army Enterprise EFMP system (E-EFMP).

Among the concerns and problems the E-EFMP hopes to solve are issues that families have voiced over the past few years, such as repeat paperwork with each move, inconsistencies from installation to installation and having to physically visit an EFMP office to have their questions answered. 

EFMP families can “test-drive” the new system and provide feedback. You can do that here. Feedback for the developers and program managers are encouraged.

Approximately 8% of military families have a family member enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), according to an October 2018 report — and 40% of those are Army families. The Army’s EFM Program began in 1979 to provide medical support to families, including, but not limited to:

  • The need for ongoing services from a medical specialist
  • Behavioral health concerns
  • Early intervention or special education services 
  • Chronic conditions

The medical support provided to EFMP families includes coordination of assignments based on provider availability, ensures there are educational and medical resources available at the duty station and provides family support services at the local installation. 

Initially, enrollment was voluntary, but became mandatory for dependents in 2005, and assignments are given to service members based on the availability of providers for their family member’s needs. Enrollment is done through the local EFMP office, usually when service members are preparing to move or additional medical services are required. An EFMP screening is required for overseas assignments. Sometimes, EFMP enrollment means the family members will not be able to accompany their soldier on an overseas or remote assignment if there are no medical providers in the area.

Solving Problems

Changes to the E-EFMP system were implemented from Aug 27 through Sept 30,  bringing solutions to problems currently enrolled family members are experiencing, such as:

  • Digital case files that are transferrable between duty stations;
  • 24/7 access to information;
  • An ability to sign documents digitally; and
  • Access to a list of Defense Health Agency-registered health-care providers.

“One of my top frustrations is the need to renew paperwork every three years, even if nothing has changed,” Army spouse Amanda Krieger said in an interview with Military.com. “Or, in the case of respite care [short-term relief for primary caregivers], every year.”

But with the E-EFMP system, once a form is filled out electronically, the data will be saved in the cloud and will be available through their time in the Army.

“So they won’t have to reenter the same data for each new relocation,” senior executive Christopher Thomas, director of information technology for the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9 (DCS, G-9) said in a press release.

Thomas said this information will be available to them as long as they have internet access, allows family members to sign documents digitally and will link to the Army’s assignment process.

The E-EFMP will be available to soldiers and their family members online and through a smartphone app available on both Android and iPhones. Eventually, the E-EFMP will link to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army (IPPS-A).

Army spouse Bailey C., who asked that her last name not be shared, is currently stationed in Grafenwoehr, Germany, and recently discovered her son was automatically enrolled in the program without her or her husband’s knowledge. When she tried to get more information about the program and why he was enrolled, she struggled to find the local resources — and has been unable to find a working phone number.

“It was assumed we should automatically know who needed to be enrolled and why, even though no one ever mentioned it to us,” she said.

Bailey plans to do research on her own before their next assignment to ensure their family has providers in the area.

The new program’s app and website aims to help family members with pre-move research. The provider trends section of the website allows you to select a potential duty station and see what providers are available and recommended. The user-generated content shares the reason why providers or duty stations aren’t recommended, most commonly for the distance the provider is located from the installation. 

There are almost 57,000 evaluations currently in the portal, and 78% of them are not recommending a particular provider based on the distance to the provider. The information can be broken down to specific installations and types of providers, allowing family members to do research before accepting new assignments.

At this point, families don’t need to do anything to update their records, Thomas said.

— Rebecca Alwine can be reached at [email protected]

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https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/11/02/new-website-and-app-seek-streamline-armys-exceptional-family-member-program.html