West Texas VA Health Care System
Enhancing Services to Veterans through Continuous Improvement Efforts
The mission of the West Texas VA Health Care System (WTVAHCS) is to serve the health care needs of America's Veterans through excellence of service. Service is defined as the one on one interaction between the Veteran, or family member, and the WTVAHCS staff. To meet our mission, the WTVAHCS has adopted a culture of "Continuous Improvement". Continuous improvement is a journey that involves continuously looking at existing processes or services and finding ways to make them better. An example of improving an existing service at the WTVAHCS is the expansion of specialty services to our Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs). The Abilene and Permian Basin CBOCs recently relocated to larger locations and now have the capability of offering Audiology, Physical Therapy, and Optometry services to Veterans closer to their home.
Sometimes improvement involves adding services that didn’t previously exist. The following services are some of the new services added to enhance Veterans’ experience.
Click 2 Benefits: This program enables Veterans to communicate virtually (face-to-face) with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Office in Waco, Texas from a local VA facility. The program enables Veterans and their families to have access to VBA Regional Offices to discuss VA benefits, file a claim, and/or register for eBenefits. This has nearly eliminated the need for West Texas Veterans to drive to Waco to file a claim or deal with other claim related issues. Over 500 Veterans have utilized this program to date in Big Spring, and the program is now also available at the Abilene CBOC. Expansion to the Permian Basin CBOC is planned for the near future. Veterans have avoided over 200,000 miles of travel as a result of this service.
TruthPoint: The West Texas VA Health Care System has implemented the use of the TruthPoint patient experience improvement survey. The survey is used to capture Veteran feedback at the point of care. Veterans are asked to provide feedback about their most recent health care experience using the TruthPoint laptop. The Veteran Centered Care Committee has placed numerous portable laptops around the main facility as well as the Community Based Outpatient Clinics in locations convenient to Veterans to capture this feedback. The assessment takes just a few minutes to complete and staff are available to assist Veterans if needed. This information will allow us to recognize staff and processes that work well and assist us in identifying areas that need improvement.
MHV: With the use of My HealtheVet throughout the WTVAHCS, Veterans are encouraged to be more hands on with their own healthcare. My HealtheVet is VA’s online personal health record, it helps Veterans partner with their health care team. It provides opportunities and tools to help manage their health care. Among the newest features available to Veterans with a Premium Account include VA Notes. These are clinical notes that the health care team records during the appointments or hospital stays. Also available are VA Immunization records, more detailed lab reports and a list of current medications. These features are in addition to prescription refills, VA Appointments and Secure Messaging - all very popular with Veterans!
Increased Telehealth: Clinical Video services have been expanded to include TelePain, TeleOrthopedics, and TeleNeurology. TelePain, TeleNeurology and TeleOrthopedics started in 2013. TeleGenomics is now on line with TeleAudiology to follow in December 2014. Video to Home has been implemented in HBPC and OEF/OIF/OND. Work is currently in progress to add Women Veterans, Mental Health and other clinics. The Pharmacy Telehealth Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model developed at the West Texas VA HCS continues to serve as a role model for other VA facilities nationwide.
The Systems Redesign Committee at the WTVAHCS is focused on educating employees and Veterans of the importance of maintaining a culture of "Continuous Improvement". Many training opportunities will be available in the coming year to increase awareness of improvement processes. In addition, staff and Veterans will be encouraged to offer suggestions for areas of improvement. Together, staff and Veterans can help the West Texas VA Health Care System on their journey of continuous improvement.