For the second straight year, nine VA programs were recognized for innovations in federal health technology.
Initiatives ranging from text messages to remind Veterans of their appointments to programs that help modernize business practices, VA’s programs were among winners honored on June 11 at the FedHealthIT Innovation Awards.
Two of those programs, VA Customer Profile and Veterans Signals (VSignals), were designed to transform the experience that Veterans have when they interact with VA.
VA Customer Profile improves VA systems by synchronizing and sharing Veteran data across the VA enterprise, giving VA customers control, visibility and ownership of their information, and employees the up-to-date information they need to personalize interactions and provide excellent customer service.
Having updated and accurate contact information may seem simple, but it is critical to excellent customer service. Having Veterans’ correct phone numbers and addresses on file across VA’s three administrations means that Veterans receive important and timely information, such as appointments, benefits information, and prescriptions or medications.
More than four million Veteran contact information profiles have been created or updated since May 2018, and more than 175,000 of those updates were made online through VA.gov.
Maintaining the correct contact information is especially important because VA has improved its ability to listen.
As part of a deliberate strategy to leverage customer experience data to empower exemplary VA customer service, VSignals gives Veterans the option to provide feedback in real time.
The VSignals platform gathers feedback from Veterans, eligible dependents, caregivers and survivors. It then provides that feedback to VA leaders for process improvement, but also sends that feedback directly to the point of interaction to enable resolution. For example, feedback about a Red Coat Ambassador at the Cleveland VAMC would not only be used when assessing the Red Coat Ambassador program across VA, but is also sent directly to the Cleveland VAMC for immediate response.
To date, the VSignals has sent out over 15 million surveys and received 3 million total responses. Most Veterans will receive a VSignals survey after their Veterans Health Administration appointment at a medical center or clinic.
When Veterans leave free-text responses in VSignals, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine automatically analyzes the feedback to detect sentiment, determine which topics Veterans are mentioning and predict what might be emerging before they intensify into long-term concerns. VSignals also routes responses to the Veterans Crisis Line and National Call Center for Homeless Veterans when Veterans leave feedback indicating they might be at risk for suicide or homelessness. To date, over 691 suicide crises and 343 homelessness crises have been sent to VA experts who can provide additional resources to those Veterans in need.
Both of these projects are working toward even greater accomplishments, as VA Customer Profile will be expanding, adding new business lines and VA systems, so Veterans’ military service, eligibility for VA services and benefits, and socio-economic and demographic data are automatically synchronized across all VA systems.
VSignals will also be adding the Digital Comment Card, a web-accessible tool to capture Veteran thoughts and comments about their VA Medical Center experiences. Their feedback is submitted in their own words, in near real-time, with 24/7 convenience.
These programs are key components of the effort to modernize VA systems and transform the interaction between the Veteran and VA.