To better engage and serve Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Information and Technology (OIT) launched VANotify, a new paperless platform that enables VA to send digital notifications to Veterans, their families, and caregivers, instead of regular postal mail.
While VA is already leveraging VEText via Short Message Service (SMS) to notify Veterans about appointments, VA sends most notifications via postal mail. With VANotify, Veterans can now receive even more VA notifications by email and text.
The slow and expensive process of mail delivery can lead to Veterans amassing piles of letters related to their health care, benefits, and other services. Challenges can also arise when Veterans change addresses or do not have easy access to a mailbox. With the launch of VANotify, which was developed using open source software, VA further expands the Department’s capability to effortlessly send Veterans emails and texts to support the following functions:
- Confirming Veterans’ receipt of benefits applications
- Notifying Veterans of changes to their VA accounts
- Helping Veterans track their VA Pharmacy deliveries
Most recently, VA used the feature to notify Veterans about COVID-19 vaccinations. Over 200,000 Veterans received communications around vaccination planning through VANotify.
Charles Worthington — VA’s Chief Technology Officer — applauded the technologists, analysts, and partners across VA and private industry who collaborated to deliver this innovative IT solution. “At VA, our number one priority is delivering excellent customer service to our Veterans,” Mr. Worthington says. “It has been incredible to see so many VA staff from across the agency come together and quickly deliver creative solutions to new problems. VANotify is a great example of VA’s commitment to using new technologies to improve our services.”
Looking ahead, as the usage of the tool continues to grow, there are plans to expand the use of VANotify to include:
- Sending monthly SMS notifications about benefit payments
- Sending information about debt acquisition
- Expanding VANotify features to enable push notifications (automated messages sent by VA applications to a user)
VA’s investments in digital applications such as the COVID-19 Chatbot, “I am Here” texting solution, the Digital Screener tool, and now VANotify, ensure Veterans have more options and flexibility in accessing the benefits and services they have earned.