VA testing partnership with CVS to reduce veterans' wait times
Only 61 percent of veterans surveyed said they got an appointment for urgent primary care when they needed it, according to VA data. There are 24 "Minute Clinics" in the Phoenix area, where veterans can go and get immediate care for illnesses and injuries. The new initiative announced Tuesday, April 18, 2017, is a pilot program that allows ailing veterans who receive treatment at the Phoenix VA medical center to access one of 24 "MinuteClinics" operated by CVS for treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, such as respiratory infections or to order lab tests.
The agreement may help to make it easier for veterans to access care for low-level complaints without having to work through the VA's notoriously lengthy appointment-setting process. The CVS program allows the VA to maintain its a role and provide veterans with timely care.
"Our number one priority is getting veterans' access to care when and where they need it", said Baligh Yehia, the VA's deputy undersecretary for health for community care.
This sentiment is echoed by TriWest, one of VA's partners in administering the Veterans Choice Program. The program is a new effort created to alleviate the exorbitant wait times veterans face when seeking care at VA facilities.
Thomas E. Creek Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center is doing better with appointments for mental health services, with an average wait time of eight days.
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Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) also supports the integrated care movement.
In 2014, then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned after it was revealed that officials in Phoenix falsified reports about the wait times veterans faced at VA clinics.
This innovative program provides Veterans with more options and access points for receiving care for a wide array of minor illnesses and injuries. Increasing access and availability of care is crucial.
CVS is the largest pharmacy retailer in the United States, and plans to help assist the VA with veteran care by sharing medical records electronically, and providing patient summaries for the VA should the patient need additional services, reports the Blaze.
To facilitate care coordination, the partnership will share electronic health information in the same manner that proved successful in a similar program launched in 2016 with the Palo Alto VA Health Care System.
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