VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) across the country are expanding services now that onsite patient care can safely resume. To ensure the protection of both patients and staff, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Information and Technology (OIT), working in collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), recently launched “I am Here”, a new VEText virtual check-in feature.
The new feature allows VA facilities to check patients in remotely while ensuring physical distancing. To use the feature, Veterans at participating facilities can simply text a message to 53079 stating “here” once they arrive in the parking lot of the facility where they have a scheduled appointment. This notifies the care team that the patient has arrived at the facility and is waiting to be called inside for their appointment. The Veteran will then receive an auto-response with a message acknowledging their check-in and an additional response directing them to await further instruction. Finally, the patient will receive a text message once their provider is ready to see them and it is okay to proceed to the appointment.
Designed in partnership with Veterans and medical center leadership and incorporating feedback from user testing, the feature helps reduce wait times, ease stress, and lower exposure risk while addressing both Veteran and VA employee needs. It allows Veterans to gain confidence in the new reality of increased digital interactions as part of their VA health care experience. Some of the tool’s features include:
- Text appointment confirmation and reminder
- Remote check-in
- Digital pre-entry COVID-19 screening registration
- Remote patient tracking
- Pre-registration by phone
- Support for Spanish-language messaging
- Support for non-scheduled appointments
Charles Worthington, VA’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), applauded the designers, developers, and partners across VA who collaborated to bring this innovative digital solution to nationwide deployment. “I continue to be impressed by the speed with which VA teams have quickly developed creative solutions to help VA respond to the pandemic. These innovations are a testament to the ingenuity and commitment of the public servants who work at VA to support our Veterans through this unprecedented situation.”
The “I am Here” check-in feature is actively in use at 30 sites across the country. As usage of the tool continues to grow, the Office of the CTO will monitor performance and feedback and update the tool’s features as needed. The development and launch of the “I am Here” Virtual check-in tool is one example of OIT’s investment in digital transformation, innovation, and collaboration. With this tool — alongside our COVID-19 chatbot and COVID-19 Digital Pre-entry screening tool — we’re responding quickly to urgent needs to protect and support Veterans and VA employees during COVID-19.