VA Health Care: More National Action Needed to Reduce Waiting Times, but Some Clinics Have Made Progress

PDF Version Also Available for Download.

Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) runs one of the nation's largest health care systems. In fiscal year 2000, roughly four million patients made 39 million outpatient visits to more than 700 VA health care facilities nationwide. However, excessive waiting times for outpatient care have been a long-standing problem. To ensure timely access to care, VA established a goal that all nonurgent primary and specialty care appointments be scheduled within 30 days of request and that clinics meet this goal by 1998. Yet, three years later, ... continued below

Creation Information

United States. General Accounting Office. August 31, 2001.

Context

This report is part of the collection entitled: Government Accountability Office Reports and was provided by UNT Libraries Government Documents Department to Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. More information about this report can be viewed below.

Who

People and organizations associated with either the creation of this report or its content.

Publisher

Provided By

UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Serving as both a federal and a state depository library, the UNT Libraries Government Documents Department maintains millions of items in a variety of formats. The department is a member of the FDLP Content Partnerships Program and an Affiliated Archive of the National Archives.

Contact Us

What

Descriptive information to help identify this report. Follow the links below to find similar items on the Digital Library.

Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) runs one of the nation's largest health care systems. In fiscal year 2000, roughly four million patients made 39 million outpatient visits to more than 700 VA health care facilities nationwide. However, excessive waiting times for outpatient care have been a long-standing problem. To ensure timely access to care, VA established a goal that all nonurgent primary and specialty care appointments be scheduled within 30 days of request and that clinics meet this goal by 1998. Yet, three years later, reports of long waiting times persist. Waiting times at the clinics in the 10 medical centers GAO visited indicate that meeting VA's 30-day standard is a continuing challenge for many clinics. Although most of the primary care clinics GAO visited (15 of 17) reported meeting VA's standard for nonurgent, outpatient appointments, only one-third of the specialty care clinics visited (18 of 54) met VA's 30-day standard. For the remaining two-thirds, waiting times ranged from 33 days at one urology clinic to 282 days at an optometry clinic. Although two-thirds of the specialty clinics GAO visited continued to have long waiting times, some were making progress in reducing waiting times, primarily by improving their scheduling processes and making better use of their staff. These successes were often the result of medical centers' and clinics' working with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)--a private contractor VA retained in July 1999--to develop strategies to reduce patient waiting times. Medical centers and clinics participating in VA's IHI project have received valuable information and strategies for successfully reducing waiting times. However, VA has not provided guidance to its medical centers on how to implement IHI strategies, and VA has only recently contracted with IHI to disseminate best practices agency-wide. VA has not developed other national guidance to help clinics reduce waiting times. Although clinics that did not have guidelines could have benefited from headquarters' assistance, VA has not established a national set of referral guidelines. Moreover, VA lacks an analytic framework for its medical centers and clinics to use in determining the root causes of lengthy waits."

Subjects

Language

Item Type

Identifier

Unique identifying numbers for this report in the Digital Library or other systems.

Collections

This report is part of the following collection of related materials.

Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

What responsibilities do I have when using this report?

When

Dates and time periods associated with this report.

Creation Date

  • August 31, 2001

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

Usage Statistics

When was this report last used?

Yesterday: 0
Past 30 days: 0
Total Uses: 8

Where

Geographical information about where this report originated or about its content.

Place Name

Publication Place

Map Information

  • map marker Automatically generated Place Name coordinates.
  • map marker Automatically generated Publication Place coordinates.
  • Repositioning map may be required for optimal printing.

Mapped Locations

Interact With This Report

Here are some suggestions for what to do next.

Start Reading

PDF Version Also Available for Download.

International Image Interoperability Framework

IIF Logo

We support the IIIF Presentation API

United States. General Accounting Office. VA Health Care: More National Action Needed to Reduce Waiting Times, but Some Clinics Have Made Progress, report, August 31, 2001; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294804/: accessed December 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.