"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. A similar service was also launched with the VA in Palo Alto, California a year ago. The program is a new effort created to alleviate the exorbitant wait times veterans face when seeking care at VA facilities.
"This tool not only provides veterans with more information about VA services, it increases accountability and ensures VA is held to a higher standard", the VA said.
"Veterans in need of routine health care services should not have to wait in line for weeks to get an appointment when they can visit community health centers like MinuteClinic to receive timely and convenient care", he said.
VA Group Practice Manager James Stainbrook said, "I think as the VA becomes more transparent on the data that they're supplying to the public and veterans start learning about the questions they can ask, we can then engage with them to help them make the decisions they want to make".
The VA did not indicate whether it received requests from other VA medical centers or how quickly it might expand the program elsewhere.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that it is testing a new program with CVS Pharmacy that will allow some veterans to use their federal health benefits at CVS "MinuteClinics".
The corporation selected an Epic Systems electronic health record in 2014 to support its MinuteClinic business.
The move is certainly a sign that VA is willing to consider out of the box solutions to remedy the wait time crisis. The new initiative is timely given that VA has on several occasions been alleged of having chronically long wait times. To facilitate care coordination, MinuteClinic visit summaries will be sent to a veteran's VA primary care physician. Nurse practitioners for MinuteClinic can write prescriptions and give common immunizations.