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January is Access Awareness Month, and we want to make Veterans aware on what VA is doing to improve access to VA health care.
VA Telehealth Services uses health informatics, disease management and telehealth technologies to target care and case management to improve access to care, improving the health of veterans. Telehealth changes the location where health care services are routinely provided.
The value VA derives from telehealth is not only in implementing telehealth technologies, but how VA uses health data, disease management and telehealth technologies to target care and case management thus providing access to care and improving the health of veterans.
New technologies such as telehealth help improve health care services. For technology to work it must work for the people it is meant to help – patients and the professionals providing care.
Telehealth in VA helps ensure veteran patients get the right care in the right place at the right time. It aims to make the home into the preferred place of care, whenever possible with the help of technology.
Veterans Transportation Service
The Veterans Transportation Service (VTS) provides safe and reliable transportation to Veterans who need assistance traveling to and from VA health care facilities and authorized non-VA health care appointments. VTS also partners with service providers in local communities to serve Veterans’ transportation needs.
Kiosks are self-service, touch screen devices that allow enrolled Veterans to have convenient control and access to their health information, improve Veterans’ experience with VA and offer Veterans self-serving activities such as:
• Check-in for scheduled appointments
• View future appointments
• Apply for travel reimbursement to appointments
• Manage, review and update personal and insurance information
• More carefully submit information they may view as sensitive, such as age or race/ethnicity
• Apply for beneficiary travel mileage reimbursement
• Request medical records
• Manage their account balance and more
Kiosks are conveniently located in VA medical centers and community based outpatient clinics across the U.S. Additional Kiosks are being added at VA facilities nationwide. Most facilities have staff or volunteers dedicated to assisting you in using the Kiosks.
Wait times for an appointment
Some Veterans are still waiting longer than they prefer for their appointments, and the VA is working hard to try to get them the care they have earned when they need it.
We realize appointment wait-time data, and how it gets calculated in a system that schedules over 80 million encounters a year, can be complex and hard to understand. That’s why we want to take time to explain our methods. We are working in good faith to be as transparent and open as possible with our data, and the way it’s calculated.
VA began publicly posting patient access data online in June 2014. The data can be found here. In October, as directed by Congress, VA made clear it was establishing new wait-time standards that more accurately reflect whether or not a veteran has been waiting too long for an appointment. VA has since done that, and has been fully transparent about it all along. We began reporting average appointment wait times in two categories: completed and pending. Both of these measures are determined based on the Veteran’s preferred date. The preferred date method is based on a clinician’s specified date for the patient to be seen, or in the absence of a clinical recommendation, the date a patient wants to be seen.
We report this completed appointment average wait time data monthly. VA also regularly advises and updates Veterans service organizations and congressional stakeholders on our patient access data and wait time methods.
The VA continues to strive to meet every Veteran’s health care needs and access to health care is a top priority at VA. Below are links to resources that can help you learn more about access to VA health care.
Resources – (click links below to open in new tab)
Find VA Locations – VA
Patient Access Data – VHA