The Patient Experience: the way we treat Veterans today is why they will choose VA tomorrow

April 22-26, 2019 is Patient Experience Week


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VA’s Veterans Experience Office, in partnership with the Veterans Health Administration has taken best practices from across VA and private sector health care to enhance the Veteran patient experience. Patient Experience Week (April 22-26, 2019) is an opportunity to highlight efforts to improve the interactions between Veterans, their families and the Veterans Health Administration.

“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.

Bill Britt and his wife during an inpatient stay at the Marion VA Medical Center.

Bill Britt and his wife during an inpatient stay at the Marion VA Medical Center.

Jeff Anderson served five years in the Army and three years in the National Guard. He suffered a stroke a few 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.”

Patient Experience can mean different things to each Veteran and their family, the big picture is that care and service is delivered in a way that is exceptional and consistent. Tools developed to establish a positive patient experience include:

  • WECARE Rounding: Medical Center Leaders and Administrators make “rounds,” speaking directly with staff and visitors about the care and services they received
  • Standard Phone Greeting: Creates a uniform way to greet callers, letting them know in a clear, friendly way who they have reached
  • Red Coat Ambassadors: These ambassadors welcome Veterans and their families at medical center entrances with a friendly greeting and direct them to their destination
  • Own the Moment: This customer experience workshop encourages VA staff to connect with, understand, and help guide Veterans through the moments that matter on their VA journey
  • Green Glove Initiative: A program that encourages staff to help ensure their facility is welcoming, clean and safe
Navy Veteran Larry Clore repaired submarines during the Vietnam war and now spends his days serving Veterans in Harrisburg, Illinois as a Red Coat Ambassador.

Navy Veteran Larry Clore repaired submarines during the Vietnam war and now spends his days serving Veterans in Harrisburg, Illinois as a Red Coat Ambassador.

Currently, 73 percent of Veterans surveyed said they trust VA overall, with 87.8% of Veterans saying they trust VA outpatient healthcare (over the past 90 days) to take care of them.

Making each moment that matters a better experience for Veterans is not something new for VA, although there is a higher focus on customer service since Secretary Robert Wilkie took leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Our first priority is customer service. That’s the prime directive. When Veterans come to VA, it is not up to them to get us to say yes. It’s up to us to get Veterans to yes. That’s customer service,” stated Wilkie.

Earlier this year, VA held it’s first ever Patient Experience Symposium, where Veterans and health care leaders gathered to share and discuss what works best in their facilities to deliver a positive patient experience.

“When a patient chooses to come see you, you earn the next visit by whether or not you instill trust,” said Dr. Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, during the conference.  “That trust is very fragile and can be eroded easily by every experience Veterans have, even if you don’t have anything to do with it.”

Author

Beth Lamb

Beth Lamb has been a member of VA’s Veterans Experience Office since January 2017. She previously held Public Affairs positions for several Veterans Health Administration facilities and currently lives in Missouri with her family.

Comments

  1. robert shepard    

    GREETING EARTHLINGS, THIS IS BOB FROM MARS. WE HAVE BEEN OBSERVING YOUR PLANET FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. WHAT A SHAME!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU HUMANS HAVE BEEN AT WAR FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS FIGHTING FOR THE MOST RIDICULOUS CONCEPT OF CONTROL AND GREED. WE MARTIANS REMAIN HIDDEN UNDERGROUND SO WE DO NOT WANT TO INCOUNTER YOUR WAR MACHINES LOADED WITH CAMERAS AND WEAPONS. YOUR HUMANKIND HAS NO CHANCE OF SURVIVAL. YOU ARE A VERY DESTRUCTIVE RACE. STAY OWN YOUR OWN PLANET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LEAVE US ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE MARTIANS HAVE FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES. GO AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU TREAT EACH OTHER WITH SUCH GREAT DISRESPECT. WE AS MARTIANS TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN TAKEN CARE OF OUR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES WHO MIGHT BECOME SICK OR HURT. JUST BCAUSE YOUR PLANET IS CLOSE TO OUR PLANET DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO INVADE OUR HOME. WE AS MARTIANS WERE TOLD BY OUR LEADERS TO REMAIN HIDDEN AND SILENT. BUT I BROKE THE #1 RULE OF NO CONTACT. BUT NOW I FEEL YOU HUMANS ARE COMING DANGEROUSLY TO CLOSE. SO AS THIS MESSAGE GO INTO OUTERSPACE TOWARDS YOUR PLANET. MAYBE SOME OF YOU HUMANS MIGHT UNDERSTAND. THIS MESSAGE HAS NOW BEEN DETECTED BY MY LEADERS AND NOW I WILL BE PLACED UNDER LOCK AND KEY. NO MARTIAN HAS BEEN IN THIS CONDITION FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. SEE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE ALREADY AND YOU ARE NOT EVEN HERE YET WITH YOUR INVADING ARMIES. I WILL MISS MY FAMILY WITH ALL MY HEART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BOBbbbbbbb- gone

  2. robert shepard    

    I have let it be known that my situation of falling through the cracks of the inept VA heath care system has effected my family and I greatly. We as a family are now in the twilight zone due to the VA personnel’s half ass health care practice. No one out there in the VA entity really cares. I have scream at the top of my lungs about my problem but has fallen on deaf ears. Everyone from the Whitehouse to local VA outpatient center has done thing to corrected this problem. It has not only happened to me and my family but to many other veterans and their families too. I have called many different offices with everybody saying they are sorry. BIG DEAL that does not excuse the lack of attention of VA health care providers toward the veterans. Politicians to the local PCP do not give a sh!!!!!t about you. AMONG VETERANS RANKS THERE IS A SAYING ABOUT THE VA HAS A SLIENT CODE THAT THEY HOPE VETERANS WILL DIE OFF SO THEY DO’NT HAVE TO PROVIDE HEALTH CARE OR PROCESS THEIR CLAIMS FOR SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITIES!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE VA HAS CAUSED MY CANCER TO ADVANCE TO A CRITICAL STAGE WITHOUT HAVING THE PROPER DETECTION METHOD DONE EARLIER BY THE LOCAL PCP. ALL THE VA DOCTORS, ADMINSTRATORS ONLY CARE ABOUT THEIR BONUSES. SAVE THAT DOLLAR SO I CAN BUY THAT NEW MERCEDES BENZ OR BMW. (HUMAN GREED THE BEST EMOTION WE CAN HAVE) FORGET LOVE, EMPATHY. PRAY TO THE ALMIGTHY DOLLAR. NOW MY FAMILY AND I ARE FLOATING IN A WOMB OF DARKNESS AND SADNESS TRYING TO FIND SOME KIND OF LIGHT. EVEN LEGAL FIRMS DO’NT WANT TO TAKE YOUR CASE BECAUSE THEY ARE AFRAID OF THE VA. A GREAT INJUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE TO THE VETERAMS AND THEIR FAMILIES STOP TH INJUSTICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SIGNED SOON TO BE DEAD ONE BELIEVE IN THE ALMITHY DOLLAR$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ THAT IS AMERICA’S TOP PRIORITY NOT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

  3. David Hellenthal    

    When will the VA take serious the lack of adequate healthcare given to incarcerated veterans? There needs to be a program by which the VA will advocate on behalf of incarcerated veterans to insure they are getting more than minimal healthcare in the Department of corrections facilities. Simply stating we cannot give incarcerated veterans healthcare does not mean you should turn a blind eye to their needs and not investigate or advocate for them. They have no choices in their healthcare and get only what cost the facilities the least.

  4. Ann Stokes    

    We have no choice but to “choose” the VA. And God forbid when a veteran has to be rushed to a non VA hospital. Our credit will probably be ruined before the VA pays for my husband’s last trip to the local ER. No two people give you the same answer including being told it was denied because I did not notify the VA. LIE! HUGE LIE! And guess what … you got it, they documented my call in the wrong place. I only wish there was a politician that cared enough to hear and do something about the pure hell the VA has put me and my husband through since he had his stroke two years ago. SHAMEFUL!

  5. TR MILLER    

    This is not the experience I’ve encountered at the VA. I have experienced completely the opposite. The providers I’ve encountered were Adversarial and snarky. There agenda of: lie, deny, and die was evident. I am 100%IU Rated. Not with any help from a VA provider.

    It’s evident that the validity of this article has nothing to do with this subjective spin. If it’s such a great customer experience and approval rating at the VA; then please explain why the veteran suicide rate is so high. And please enlighten me as to why Veterans are now killing themselves on VAMC properties.

    I have reached out to the VA to get my particular situation rectified on numerous occasionIs. But to NO avail.

  6. David Herrera    

    I previously worked at The Marion Il. VAMC. I am a Navy Corpsman and Viet Nam vet and earned a Medical degree.
    My experience with Denver VAMC is good, my PCP is Dr. Hameed Muhammed, he is a well trained Internal Medicine Physician. I appreciate the care I receive and look forward to my continued relationship with VA.

    David R. Herrera, MD Rtd.

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