Text messaging helps VA trim missed appointments
A recently launched text messaging program from the Department of Veterans Affairs is designed to reduce no-shows for medical appointments by more than 100,000 over three months.
The program is VEText, which serves as an appointment reminder system. VA started rolling out the program in March 2018 and 138 VA facilities currently use it.
The automated interactive service enables a veteran to confirm or cancel the appointment. As of July 9, more than 3 million veterans have received VEText messages and canceled 319,504 appointments.
Knowing those cancellations in advance enables the system to set up replacement appointments, which helps to frees up clinical time for other vets.
“Every missed appointment represents a lost opportunity to provide faster access to care for a veteran in need,” says Peter O’Rouke, acting secretary at the VA.
VEText is integrated into the VA electronic health record and requires no manual action by staff, freeing staff members to work with veterans.
Veterans who have used the VA system and have a cell number in their electronic health record are automatically enrolled in the program. The vets can update phone numbers during check-in or check-out at kiosks during an appointment, or through their web portal account.