Most of us in the United States expect prompt service when we seek medical care (except, perhaps, at the emergency room). For example, if we need to see a doctor or have lab work or diagnostic tests done, we can usually get an appointment within a reasonable time period.
This, however, is not the same standard of care for veterans who utilize their specialty medical services through the VA. Recently, news broke that many U.S. veterans have been waiting months—even years—for medical care at the Phoenix VA.
The serious delays, deficiencies and bottlenecks were, in large part, due to outdated, inefficient systems. Unfortunately, these issues at the Phoenix center are not isolated; they are, however, redeemable: staff at the Hampton VA Medical Center in Hampton, Virginia are currently taking measures to improve efficiencies affecting their patients, particularly in the area of MRIs. The changes, which were presented in a study at the American College of Radiology’s ACR 2015 meeting in Washington, DC held May 17 – 21, 2015, have reduced long patient wait times and resulted in better service across several important areas. In fact, the VA in Hampton has developed a model that has the potential to improve MRI services throughout the VA system if it is adopted universally.
According to an article by Wayne Forrest on AuntMinnie.com, some of the modifications included in the Hampton center’s model fix the in-house scheduling process, introduce a patient reminder system and add additional staff to accommodate extended imaging hours. These improvements to the system “collectively reduced appointment ‘no shows,’ the average wait time for an MRI scan and reading turnaround time.” Forrest also reported the following impacts to key metrics:
With our mission to improve quality and patient safety in mind, especially in the field of radiology, RadSite applauds the Hampton VA for implementing a system that has reduced long wait times for patients and has the potential to positively impact many veterans if adopted throughout the VA system. After all, veterans deserve the best possible care for selflessly serving our country.
To read the full article, “VA facility improves patient access to MRI services” on AuntMinnie.com, click here.