Veterans Affairs:

Service Delays at VA Outpatient Facilities

T-HRD-94-5: Published: Oct 27, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 1993.

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GAO discussed the timeliness of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) outpatient health care services, focusing on: (1) the reasons for service delays; and (2) solutions VA should consider to improve service delivery. GAO noted that: (1) VA outpatient facilities have experienced significant delays in delivering medical care services; (2) veterans generally wait approximately 1 to 3 hours for nonurgent examinations and up to 9 weeks to obtain specialty services appointments; (3) medical care service delays are attributable to inefficient clinic operating procedures that require veterans to obtain services on a walk-in basis and result in needless waits, dissatisfied veterans, and stressful working conditions; (4) VA needs to restructure its outpatient delivery system and provide more timely ambulatory services if it is to compete with other health care providers; (5) VA should develop a system-wide patient-oriented process that includes telephone assistance networks and appointment scheduling for nonurgent conditions; and (6) although VA has a responsibility to provide veterans with timely health care, it needs to restructure its ambulatory care system to be competitive under the health care reform initiative.

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