VA Hospital Troubles Shine Light on the Need for Improved Patient Experiences

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This week, news of the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department’s announcement of a sweeping reorganization aimed and making it easier for veterans to navigate the labyrinth of bureaucratic layers to get access to benefits and care from the sprawling department was met with broad support. VA Secretary Robert McDonald said the agency serving 22 million U.S. veterans needs to make the move in order to put a sharp focus on customer service at an agency currently devoid of anything but.

The VA has come under fire since earlier this spring when it was reported that dozens of veterans may have died while waiting or treatment at the Phoenix VA hospital. It was also discovered that appointment records were changed in an attempt to hide the rampant delays.

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And while not nearly as extreme, today’s healthcare organizations are facing some of the same issues. They are a complex maze of multiple clinics, hospitals and doctor’s offices – with a plethora of phone systems barely connecting them. It’s a real challenge to get a patient what they need when such broad and diverse requests come in such as prescription refills, clinical questions, directions, appointment scheduling and billing. But unlike the VA recently, these care facilities truly want to help patients have a better care experience.

So to address the issue, providers are looking for ways to centralize communications and optimize associated processes and staff across even remote locations, creating a single point of contact for patients so they can reach the right office and department on the first try. This minimizes stress in an already stressful situation, accelerates care and improves the overall patient experience.  And this is really the beginning. Transforming patient care also creates seamless patient interactions, proactive patient engagement and empowerment of Healthcare Staff.

The VA sees this as the solutions too. As part of the restructuring, the VA will hire a chief customer service officer to create a single customer service structure and reduce the regional divisions and eventually, provide veterans one user name and password for all VA services so they will be able to communicate with officials in a single region to solve problems.

Care professionals and facilities will always strive for advances in medicine to improve the health and well-being of their patients but events like the VA hospital are bringing to light the patient experience, an oft neglected aspect of patient health.

For more information on how Aspect can help transform the patient experience, click here.