Access to Care Website
Developed by the Office of Organizational Excellence and launched in April 2017, VHA’s Access to Care Web site has been helping Veterans and their families find quality care quickly and efficiently. Visitors can compare the distance, wait times, services, quality and feedback for VA health care facilities within a selected mile radius. They can also compare the quality of care provided by VA medical centers with that of local non-VA hospitals.
In the two years since launch, VHA specialists have worked to continually update and improve the site. For example, data categories were expanded and enhancements made to the display of the Hospital Compare, Patient Experience Compare, and Facility Quality pages. In addition, VHA provided more data categories for the Nursing Home Compare page facilitating the addition of Community Living Centers and star rating metrics for Quality, Staffing, and Survey. “These pages are all widely used by our visitors, so we worked to improve the user experience to make it more transparent and simpler for the user to compare facilities and access information,” Jensen says.
David Jensen, Health System Specialist, QSV Health Systems Innovation, said that many of these improvements were based on internal stakeholders, Veteran Service Organizations, and direct Veteran feedback through internal Veteran focus groups and Veteran users in general. For example, the popular facility mapping feature used across the site has undergone multiple functionality improvements. “We made some significant updates to the way the maps are displayed by enlarging them and moving the search result list from the right to the left of the page and made it collapsible so that visitors with smaller or low-resolution monitors will have a better browsing experience,” Jensen explains.
Though Jensen and his colleagues agree that organizing such a large-scale data project can be challenging at times, it is the continued success of the user experience that demonstrates it is possible. They are proving that even a complex, multi-layered and multidisciplinary tool can succeed when all stakeholders have a common goal to provide useful data to Veterans that is timely and consistent.
Since its launch in the spring of 2017, the website has grown to include information about same-day services, scheduling experience satisfaction rates, and medical center and nursing homes facility quality of care data.
To learn more about this tool and how to use it, refer to the following information:
- Veterans Affairs Office of Communications press release
- Dr. Bhatnagar, Deputy, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health in Quality, Safety & Value, website tutorial YouTube video
- Spotlight on Excellence, Office of Organizational Excellence, newsletter article: "Feature from the Field: New Access to Care Tool Rolled Out in Record Time"