VA launches new access and quality in health care tool

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hosted a media roundtable Wednesday to unveil its innovative online tool, Access and Quality in VA Healthcare, which will make wait times transparent for veterans and provide them with data to help them make informed decisions about their health care.

The tool, which can be found on the VA’s Access to Care website, is one that VA is introducing to restore veterans’ trust and confidence. Veterans will be able to compare access and quality measures from their facility to other VA facilities including:

• How long patients are waiting to be seen in their VA;

• How veterans describe their experiences scheduling primary and specialty care at specific VA facilities;

• Timeliness of appointments for care needed right away; and

• Information about the quality of health care delivered at every medical center compared to local private-sector hospitals.

“Veterans must have access to information that is clear and understandable to make informed decisions about their healthcare,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a press release. “No other healthcare system in the country releases this type of information on wait times. This allows veterans to see how VA is performing.”

VA Acting Under Secretary for Health Dr. Poonam Alaigh said the tool is another example of VA leading the way.

“No one in the private sector publishes data like this,” Alaigh said. “This tool will instill a spirit of competition and encourage our medical facilities to proactively address access and quality issues, while empowering veterans to make choices according to what works best for them and their families.”

The new website will be a work in progress as VA continues to receive feedback from veterans, employees, media, veterans service organizations and their congressional partners to improve the site’s tools and capabilities. VA’s goal is to empower veterans to make informed decisions about their health care and, above all else, show a renewed commitment to solve the challenges VA is faced with, according to documents from the Office of the Under Secretary for Health.

Click here for a video walkthrough of how to use the new Access and Quality in VA Healthcare tool.