VA tests partnership with CVS to reduce veterans' wait times

Posted April 21, 2017

Many veterans died after having been put on wait lists at VA hospitals around the country.

In an effort to improve care coordination and expand access to care for veterans, the VA and CVS Health have announced a new partnership that will establish electronic health information exchange between the two networks to ensure that providers can make informed decisions. Their visit would then be sent to the VA for follow ups.

Under this program, nurses at the Phoenix VA facility's help line will be allowed to refer veterans to CVS' MinuteClinics when it is deemed "medically appropriate". "Our No. 1 priority is getting veterans access to care when and where they need it", said Baligh Yehia, MD, the deputy undersecretary for health for community care, VA.

Shulkin has made clear he'd like a broader collaboration of "integrated care" nationwide between the VA and private sector in which veterans have wider access to private doctors.

Congress recently passed legislation that would funnel $10 billion into the VCP program. President Donald Trump, who promised throughout his campaign to reform the VA, is expected to sign the legislation on Wednesday.

The Veterans Health Administration said it opted to go with a CVS partnership in Phoenix after VA officials there specifically pushed for the additional option.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) a veteran of the Vietnam War, where he was also a POW, supports the new program.

The VA says veterans can use the site to compare that data with other facilities in their area. "We believe in the MinuteClinic model of care and are excited to offer our health care services as one potential solution for the Phoenix VA Health Care System and its patients", he said.

The VA has launched an online Access and Quality Tool providing patient wait time and quality of care data, which the department is calling "the most transparent and easy to understand wait time and quality data website in the health-care industry".

Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media.