VA finally gets transparent on veteran wait times, clinical care quality
The Department of Veterans Affairs launched its Access to Care site on Wednesday to provide veterans transparency on wait times and quality of care.
The site is equipped with tools that track wait times according to each clinic. Veterans can search by state and also find locations within a specified distance. Further, veterans can locate clinics with same-day services.
Veteran can also view reviews of patient satisfaction for specific locations, as well as compare care quality ratings between clinics. There’s also a tool to compare how the VA system ranks with access nationally.
The website contains data from all 1,700 national health facilities and about 12 private sector hospitals. Officials said the site is not completely functional at the moment, but expect completion by May 1.
“Veterans must have access to information that is clear and understandable to make informed decisions about their health care,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, MD, said in a statement. “No other healthcare system in the country releases this type of information on wait times. This allows Veterans to see how VA is performing.”
The website is designed to increase transparency and care quality of the VA, which has been rocked by controversy for the way it handles wait times and patient records.
In 2014, it was discovered that Phoenix VA employees tampered with data to make it look as if veterans received care sooner -- rather than the actual lengthy wait times. Further investigation revealed this was an agency-wide issue, spurring numerous changes within the agency.
Shulkin made it clear at the time of his appointment that he would continue to innovate the agency and provide better care to veterans.
“This tool is another example of VA leading the way. No one in the private sector publishes data this way,” Acting Under Secretary for Health Poonam Alaigh, MD, said in a statement. “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.”