VA Employee Technical Innovation Reduces Nationwide Appointment No-Shows
Each year, more than nine million Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care appointments go unutilized due to missed appointments. VEText is an innovative mobile solution used by the Veterans Health Administration to combat no-show rates by reminding Veterans of upcoming appointments via text messages and offering a quick and easy way to confirm or cancel appointments. Earlier this year, the VEText team deployed a new feature – Open Slot Management (OSM) – which automatically offers earlier appointments to Veterans meeting certain criteria, should open slots become available.
As of December 3, 2019, VEText has been active at 161 VA sites and sent more than 134 million SMS appointment reminders to nearly 7 million Veterans. Since its launch, VEText has processed over 2.8 million cancellations freeing up appointment slots for other Veterans to utilize. The overall national no-show rate has decreased by nearly two percent—an overall improvement of 10 percent. The OSM feature has rescheduled over 29,000 appointments allowing Veterans to receive health care services earlier than previously scheduled. By reducing the no-show rate and actively utilizing open appointment slots, VA is improving the health care experience for Veterans and providing scheduling stability to providers.
VEText was conceived by career employees with VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, Shane Elliott and Deanna Callahan. Inspired by text messages received from their personal health care providers reminding them of upcoming appointments, Shane, Deanna, Robert Durkin, and the rest of the Innovations team at VA Loma Linda developed VEText. VEText added functionality that differentiated this solution from commercial off-the-shelf products by providing the ability to automatically cancel appointments in VistA without manual intervention from scheduling staff. After a successful pilot, VA began rolling out VEText nationwide in 2018.
The VEText team was recognized with a FedHealthIT Innovation Award in June 2019, received patent pending status in October 2019, and was awarded two iNET Innovation project awards in November 2019.
Next up for the VEText team is tackling messages that would otherwise go unanswered with Artificial Intelligence. The system does not to respond to messages other than confirm or cancel, but with this new technology, the auto-responder will be able to provide answers to common responses for additional information.
Veterans with a cell phone number listed in their health record are automatically enrolled in VEText and will receive multiple reminders prior to the day of their appointment. Veterans may update their phone numbers during check-in at their next appointment, or use the self-service kiosks located throughout VA facilities. Veterans may choose to opt-out at any time.
Still have questions? Read our VEText FAQs.