New tool to hopefully help with wait times
Wait times at VA facilities are about to get a lot more transparent.
That’s the hope, at least, of a new online tool soft-launched by the Veteran Affairs Department earlier this month. Veterans who visit AccesstoCare.va.gov can now compare now nearby VA medical facilities compare by distance, wait times, services, quality, and feedback.
The website was developed in response to the Phoenix VA medical center scandal that took place three years ago, when reports revealed that veterans were waiting weeks or even months for appointments. The findings led to a leadership shakeup at the VA and prompted inspector general investigations that found similarly egregious wait times at other facilities. Worse, investigations also found dozens of instances in which patient schedulers falsified wait times, and they exposed staffing shortages at many locations.
With its reputation tainted in recent years by these revelations, the VA hails the new site as a major step forward as it seeks to become more accountable and transparent.
“Veterans must have access to information that is clear and understandable to make informed decisions about their health care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin after the tool launched. “No other health-care system in the country releases this type of information on wait times. This allows veterans to see how VA is performing.”
In addition to transparency, the Federal News Radio reports, the site is also designed to help veterans understand their options for care and answer four key questions:
How quickly can my VA facility see me?
How satisfied are veterans with their care in my facility?
How does care in my VA facility compare to other hospitals in the area?
How is the VA system doing with access nationally?
The VA says it will continue making adjustments to improve the tool based on feedback from veterans, so take a look and let the agency know what you think.