VA tests partnership with CVS to reduce veterans’ wait times

VA Secretary David Shulkin is a supporter of finding new ways for increased “integrated care” between the VA and the private sector. MinuteClinic visit summaries will be sent to a Veteran’s VA primary care physician.

“Thanks to the leadership of CVS Health and the VA, Phoenix’s almost 120,000 Veterans will now be served at 24 different area MinuteClinic locations for minor health care services”.

The program, which will be limited to the Phoenix area at launch but could be expanded, will still require patients to contact a VA help line. Services will be covered by their VA insurance. They cited the feedback of local veterans and the success of a smaller test run with CVS previous year in Palo Alto, Calif.

This tool will boil down that complex care quality, patient satisfaction, and wait time information into a digestible report to help patients make treatment decisions, the VA reported.

The corporation selected an Epic Systems electronic health record in 2014 to support its MinuteClinic business.

“Our number one priority is getting veterans’ access to care when and where they need it”, Baligh Yehia, the VA’s deputy undersecretary for health for community care, told the Associated Press.

Democrats have criticized Republican politicians for wanting to privatize veterans’ care.

Veterans in Phoenix will benefit from the same data exchange capabilities, and may have a great deal to gain from alternative care choices in the region.

The VA’s new Access and Quality Tool will offer veterans more information on patient wait times and quality of care of VA facilities compared to local hospitals. Since then, the entire Veterans Affairs health system has been exploring new ways to expand choice and reduce the interminable time between requesting an appointment and seeing a clinician.

Veterans would not be bound by current restrictions under the VA’s Choice program, which limits outside care to those who have been waiting more than 30 days for an appointment or have to drive more than 40 miles to a facility. Nurse practitioners for MinuteClinic can write prescriptions and give common immunizations.

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