JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Phoenix VA wait-time scandal, and today, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it has launched a new tool to make wait times more transparent for veterans.
VA says the "Access and Quality Tool" provides veterans with an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand way of accessing patient wait time and quality-of-care data, and says it increases accountability to ensure VA is held to a higher standard.
“Veterans must have access to information that is clear and understandable to make informed decisions about their health care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin. “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.”
The tool allows Veterans to do the following:
- Access the average times patients are waiting to be seen in their local area
- See how veterans describe their experiences scheduling primary and specialty-care appointments at specific VA facilities
- Access timeliness of appointments for care needed right away
- See the quality of health care delivered at VA medical centers compared with local private-sector hospitals
You may recall, it was three years ago when the VA wait-time scandal first emerged.
“In 2014, it was revealed that VA employees in Phoenix and all over the country were manipulating wait lists at hospitals – and that veterans were likely dying as a result," said Policy Director Dan Caldwell with Concerned Veterans for America (CVA). "Three years later, less than 10 people have been fired and there are still reports emerging of manipulated wait lists. Just months ago, reports showed that wait times were being manipulated in places like North Carolina and Virginia."
This new tool however, is something CVA says is a positive move towards better care for veterans.
“It’s refreshing to see the VA draw from the private sector to develop solutions that will modernize the department. If implemented correctly, Secretary Shulkin’s new tool will be a solid step toward making the VA more transparent and customer-focused. Veterans who use the VA deserve to know what kind of care they can expect, and taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent. In the past, the VA has hidden this kind of important information and misled the public about their poor performance.” said CVA Executive Director Mark Lucas.
VA says it will continue to make improvements to this tool based on the feedback it receives from veterans. You can find the "Access and Quality Tool" here. VA is also providing a video to tool can be used. You will find that video here.
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