VA is listening to customer feedback. But with more than 20 million potential customers from thousands of different points of view, making that feedback actionable and accessible can be a challenge.
After consulting industry leaders and best practices, VA conducted a broad qualitative research project to gain a picture of Veterans’ life journeys. Using a new-to-VA methodology known as Human Centered Design (HCD), VA created what is now known as the Veteran Journey Map. HCD encourages empathy and understanding. It begins with observation and qualitative research from countless interviews to ensure all perspectives are represented.
The Veterans Journey Map examines Veterans’ situations, needs, behaviors and dreams. It marks a shift in the VA viewpoint from system-centered to user-centered, allowing VA to put the Veteran at the center of policy, program and process decisions.
Since then, VA has created dozens of Journey Maps, examining a variety of Veteran interactions with VA, looking for opportunities of improvement in the services and experience provided.
For example, the VA Patient Experience Journey Map (PX Journey Map) was created to focus efforts on what customers said they cared the most about. VA calls these “the moments that matter.” After completing ethnographic field research, the PX Journey Map team collaborated with research participants and VA stakeholders to synthesize the findings. The results lead to a shared understanding of health care experiences of Veterans across the country. This map represents a common set of moments Veterans experience before, during, and after a health care appointment visit. Instead of the narrow view a single service provider might have into a small part of the patient’s experience, this map examines the full breadth of the patient interactions–both the bright spots and pain points. This Journey Map was a catalyst for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to launch innovative patient experience improvements.
Those improvements include:
Own the Moment (OTM)
OTM training empowers VA employees to deliver a positive customer service experience by connecting emotionally with Veterans. OTM helps employees deliver the best experience for Veterans and their families. More than 86,000 VA employees have completed the OTM customer experience workshop.
Red Coat Ambassador Program
The Red Coat Ambassador program outfits volunteers and employees with recognizable red coats or vests to greet and assist Veterans and caregivers when they enter a medical center. The Red Coat Ambassador program is in nearly all VA Medical Centers.
Walking the Post (WECARE Rounding)
Purposeful rounding for VA leadership allows patients and employees to build relationships, verify consistency of care, gather feedback, and follow up on opportunities for improvement. The Veterans Experience Office creates tool kits for this and many other programs to make it easy for VA facilities to implement patient experience programs.
The PX Journey Map also plays a significant role in VA’s ability to measure–in real-time–customer trust in VA and gather additional insights for immediate service recovery and continued experience improvements. Insights from the PX Journey map influence the development of survey questions used in VA’s Veterans Signals (VSignals) customer feedback program. Survey questions are carefully developed based on what matters to the customer, so VA is asking relevant questions to collect meaningful insights.
A Veteran’s journey is ever-evolving, and VA has made listening a priority to ensure those needs are met.
This story is part of the Secretary’s Priorities series, which was outlined to the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Military Constructions, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies on Feb. 26, 2019, by VA Secretary Wilkie. The Secretary’s Priorities are Customer Service, MISSION Act, Electronic Health Record, Transforming Business Systems, and Suicide Prevention. These stories are designed to give a closer look at the improvements VA is making in how we relate to, interact with, and ultimately serve our Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors.