Pictured above: Bill Britt, an 85-year-old Army Veteran who served during the Korean War, and his wife Mae, 84, have traveled frequently giving the couple opportunity to visit several VA medical facilities.
VA is listening to Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors by interviewing Veterans across the country to learn more about their hospitalization experience. Veterans Experience Office teams are talking with Veterans and their families who are currently in an inpatient ward or have recently stayed overnight at a VA hospital, along with the VA staff members who assist with their hospitalization. The journey research includes multiple locations, including: Asheville, North Carolina; Marion, Illinois; San Francisco, California; and Dallas, Texas. The goal is to uncover those “moments that matter” and design solutions and tools to enhance the patient experience.
Bill Britt served for more than three years as an amphibious engineer in the U.S. Army, delivering supplies during the Korean War. He’s also a member of Veterans of Underage Military Service, enlisting at age 16. Mae, the daughter of a WWII Veteran, is a self-proclaimed “military brat” who grew up on base and uses ChampVA for her health care. The Britts’ son and son-in-law are also Veterans and use VA services.
“Our experience with the VA overall has been really good, but some facilities are better than others,” Mae said. “It was difficult to transfer my records from one VA to another and the housekeeping staff differ greatly from one hospital to the next,” her husband added.
As far as Bill’s current VA inpatient stay, he says his care “has been excellent. I’ve been here for three days and they keep us informed everyday of what is going on. I feel better and am hoping to go home soon. They have taken good care of me.”
What does that mean to VA? The Veteran’s experience differs, depending on the location. Some facilities employ best practices and others may not. So how do we align facilities to ensure a consistent, positive experience no matter the location? A journey map is the start.
With a completed journey map, tools and solutions can be created. VA’s Veterans Experience Office has taken best practices from across VA and private sector health care to create tool kits and templates that can be customized and implemented at all VA facilities. Those tool kits include “Own the Moment” Customer Service training, the Green Gloves initiative (addressing cleanliness), leadership rounding and the Red Coat Ambassador program. Along with technology improvements such as Vet360 and improving the ability to capture customer feedback, VA is listening and responding with positive change.
Once the hospitalization inpatient interviews are completed, a journey map will be created to assist in the development of tool kits and process improvements to improve hospital stays for Veterans.
“If our Veterans receive optimal care and should have to return to a hospital, we hope that they would choose VA. That’s what a positive patient experience means to me,” said Donna House, an associate chief nurse at the Marion, Illinois VA Medical Center.
Jeff Anderson served five years in the Army and three years in the National Guard. He suffered a stroke two years ago and was hospitalized at a VA facility in April. Anderson described his recent patient experience as “top notch.”
After his stroke he decided to relocate closer to his favorite VA facility.
“The nursing staff built a great rapport and dealt with my irritation, the other clinicians talked to me about all aspects of my care, spending lots of time with me before I was going to discharge and go home,” he said. “I don’t like hospitals or want to be in one, but I wouldn’t mind coming back to VA.”
Thanks to the Britts, Anderson and hundreds of other Veterans, VA is better able to understand what matters most about their experience.
Learn more about the Veterans Experience Office at www.va.gov/ve