- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

U.S. veterans will have new tools at their disposal to better manage their healthcare online, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Wednesday.

The “Access and Quality” tool is a web interface for veterans where they can see patient wait times in real-time at VA hospitals in their area, among other tools and services.

The website, which will officially go live on May 1, is three years in the making and part of the department’s efforts to improve patient access and care after a series of scandals over the years.

Last year it was revealed that calls to the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline went unanswered, sending distressed callers to voice mail and not returning messages.

In 2014, it was revealed that over 100,000 veteran’s were waiting at least 90 days for an appointment as a result of gross negligence within a number of VA hospitals.

“All of us sitting in this room here, and all Americans, there’s hardly an American who doesn’t know a veteran, there’s no American for which improving the care for veteran’s is not of the utmost importance,” Dr. Poonam Alaigh, the acting under secretary for health, said during a demonstration of the interface Wednesday.

With the new web interface, Veterans will have the opportunity to contribute and access reviews of patient experiences on scheduling primary and specialty care at specific VA hospitals.

They’ll also be able to view data of the quality of health care at the VA and how it compares to area hospitals.

The department is already working on a second version, which they hope to connect to a proposed updated scheduling system, which they are currently piloting.

“The goal is to have a one click process by which you can actually go into the scheduling system and do self-scheduling. That’s not going to happen in the near future because those systems need to first be refined, but the eventual goal is to be able to do that and I’m hoping we can do that for version 2.0.,” Dr. Alaigh said.

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