Sometimes a good idea begets more good ideas. Such is the case with direct scheduling which allows Veterans to bypass going to a primary care physician when their only purpose is to get a referral to schedule a routine audiology or optometry appointment.
This idea inspired Fayetteville, North Carolina, VA employees working on their facility’s internal direct scheduling process to come up with a new way to get the word out. The MyVA team had already supplied about 20 internal and external document templates so facilities wouldn’t reinvent the wheel. But Fayetteville’s idea was not in the template – create a button for employees to wear to make Veterans more conscious of the new process. Angela Warner went home and designed the perfect button.
“I do my best to provide personalized service and see things through the eyes of the Veteran,” Warner explained when asked how she came up with the design. “I wanted to make it simple in nature and easy to read while providing as much of the information as possible. I felt that the picture of the scissors and ribbon spoke a thousand words.”
Enter the American Legion
As we all know, funds are short so it’s not easy to buy these types of items. But, once American Legion members volunteering at the hospital heard about direct Scheduling and the associated buttons, the problem was solved. Members of the Lillington American Legion took up a collection and purchased the buttons for their VA volunteers and for those working in the hospital.
“Our American Legion wanted to do it to inform our Veterans,” Amy Noell, a member of the American Legion said when speaking about the buttons. “Anything you can do to get the information in front of the Veterans, the more knowledge they have, the better.” On the subject of direct scheduling itself, Noell opined, “It was tedious to get an appointment … two to four month wait. I think [direct scheduling] is going to alleviate the problems. In addition, not all Veterans want a primary care appointment. This allows them to get an ear or eye appointment without getting caught up in the red tape.”
Spreading the word across the country
On the bi-monthly direct scheduling communications huddles, public affairs officers loved the idea. Many asked for copies of the button graphic, which is now available to all facilities, but some will be designing their own button.
“Each good idea builds on the lasts and makes Veterans more aware of this new opportunity to make scheduling easier,” remarked Stacy Vasquez, Direct Scheduling senior project leader, when hearing about the collaboration. “Direct scheduling not only improves the Veterans experience, it improves the employee experience and inspires our stakeholders to work in collaboration with us to support our Veterans.”