Tester Urges VA to Bolster Timely Delivery of Care to Veterans through Improved Scheduling

Chairman calls on VA Secretary to improve the Department’s appointment scheduling and consultation management processes

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester is pushing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough to enhance veterans’ access to timely care by improving the Department’s administrative processes.

“I write to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) plans for improving appointment scheduling and consultation management for our nation’s veterans,” the Chairman wrote in a letter. “Whether appointments occur in VA facilities or in the community, the Department must ensure veterans receive timely access to care. Scheduling and consult management is an important component of that access.”

A recent scheduling audit found numerous areas for improvement in VA’s scheduling practices and included key recommendations. In the letter, Tester urged VA to implement critical measures put forth by the auditor-including establishing additional Key Performance Indicators, revising standardized operating procedures and terminology used in appointment scheduling, and assessing delays in community care.

The Senator continued, “I agree with the auditor that VA should assess the reasons for impediments and delays for veterans receiving community care to identify potential interventions to improve compliance. The Department must ensure it is providing timely care for our veterans, no matter where they seek health care services…Taking the time to analyze and improve VA’s appointment scheduling and consultation management systems is a crucial step towards ensuring that our nation’s veterans receive timely and accessible care.”

In January 2021, the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, also known as the Isakson and Roe Act, was signed into law. This law included provisions from Tester’s Accountability in Department of Veterans Affairs Scheduling and Consult Management Act requiring VA to clarify its referral processes, improve training for staff, develop real-time tracking to monitor scheduling at medical facilities, and conduct audits of scheduling nationwide. VA recently completed this law’s requirement to provide certification and training for staff involved in appointment scheduling.

Read the Chairman’s full letter HERE.