Veterans Wait 3 Months for Primary-Care Appointment vs. 3 Days for Private Patients

I have noted with dismay that the U.S. government is trying to fix the Veterans Health Administration scandal over wait times by throwing more money at a fundamentally broken system.

Jonathan Bush, CEO of athenaHealth, a leading provider of cloud-base electronic health records (EHR’s) has researched his firm’s database to arrive at a shocking conclusion: Patients wait three days, on average, for a primary-care appointment. And that was for well patients: Sick patients got in in one day.

Bush concludes that veterans trapped in the Veterans Health Administration should be able to shop for care outside the VHA.

Bush asserts that the VHA’s EHR system (VISTA) is better than many in the private sector, and better prepared to be interoperable with some private providers’ EHRs. I agree that when VISTA launched over two decades ago, it was a cutting edge EHR. However, research recently published by NCPA shows that VISTA is showing lots of cracks. I have also discussed that the VHA and the Department of Defense’s EHRs re not interoperable.

Mr. Bush knows a lot more about EHRs than I do, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt (especially as athenaHealth is the only company in the EHR space that has criticized the government’s spending $30 billion on EHRs that appear to have little if any benefit, and its competitors for begging the government to water down standards). If athenaHealth is confident that its cloud-based EHR for private providers can be made easily interoperable with the VHA’s, that removes one more excuse to allowing veterans to choose care from any provider they wish.

Comments are closed.