The Veterans Affairs Department offered better experiences than community-based care except when it comes to access to care, according to a recent study.
A wide-scale study of more than 1 million veterans indicates veterans receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ internal health care system compares favorably with community-based care veterans receive outside the network.
The study—Veterans’ Experiences with Outpatient Care: Comparing the Veterans Affairs System with Community-Based Care—assessed patient experiences for outpatient specialty, primary and mental health care in four dimensions: access to care, communication, coordination and provider rating.
“Patient experiences were better for VA than for community care in all respects except access,” according to the study, which was led by Megan Vanneman, a research scientist at VA Salt Lake City Health Care System’s Informatics, Decision-Enhancement and Analytic Science Center. Access scores were similar in mental health care and primary care, and community-based care access scores were only superior in specialty care.
“Veterans now have increased options for where they get their medical care and VA is working to ensure they have a positive experience regardless of where that care is delivered,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “This study helps affirm the quality of VA care and also suggests community providers are doing a good job of meeting veterans’ needs.”
The study’s results bookend a series of improvements the agency has made in customer experience. In May, VA recorded its highest level of trust among veterans who received VA health care services—90.1%—since the agency began measuring real-time data in 2017. The trust scores were high despite the COVID-19 pandemic that transitioned many care visits from in-person to via telehealth.