3260084 Veterans Affairs expands electronic access for veterans

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shamira Purifoy)

By Jonathan Kaupanger

Just about a year ago, the Faster Care for Veterans Act was signed into law. This put the VA on deadline to make it possible for veterans to self-schedule appointments, electronically.  Just how has the VA managed this deadline?  So far, pretty darned good actually!

The law listed the basic capabilities that the new scheduling system should have. Congress wanted veterans to be able to schedule, modify and cancel appointments for primary, specialty and mental healthcare.  To do this, you’ll want to download the VA Online Scheduling app.  You can use this app 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Appointments are listed in real time – appointments that were filled previously but were canceled by other patients are now up for grabs.

And while the Online Scheduling app fulfills this Congress appointed deadline, the VA has come up with a few other electronic improvements that veterans can take advantage of now.

You’re not currently enrolled in VA health care? You can apply online and get the process rolling! First check your eligibility – and like everything else on this page, you can check from the comfort of your own home. If you are eligible, then you can apply here.  If you run into any difficulties filling out the application, you can call the VA’s toll free hotline at 877.222.VETS (8387) and someone will walk you through the process.

Ok, so let’s say that you’re all signed up with the VA now. MyHealtheVet.va.gov should be your next stop online. Using this portal you can track appointments, send secure messages to your VA health care team.  You can even view, print or even just download your VA medical record.

There are three account types for MyHealtheVet as well. With the basic account you can put in your personal data and use the journal feature.  Once you select the “Veteran/VA Patient” tab on the registration site, you’ll automatically be bumped up to the Advanced level.  Here you can refill VA prescriptions and use the prescription tracker.  The Premium account gives you all the access of basic and advanced and adds the VA Health Summary, secure messaging and VA appointments.

The VA has also rebuilt the way veterans can apply for education, pension and burial benefits.  You can also check out what benefits you’ll get at the school you want to attend by using the GI Bill Comparison tool.  And if you’re having issues getting things going, you can find an accredited VSO rep to help you out online, without even the need to get up from your comfy chair!

The most recent addition to the VA’s online tools is the VA’s Video Connect app.  This app lets you connect with your VA health care team with a Skype-like platform.  This app makes health care more convenient and will cut back on travel times for veterans.  Bets and their physicians jointly decide whether to use VA Video Connect for a medical visit.  If you want to see if your mobile device is compatible with VA Video Connect, visit the site here.

It does look like the VA is on schedule for the Congress imposed deadline of Dec. 31 to have this system up and running. The Agency is looking for veterans, caretakers and even dependents to help give feedback, and you could earn $25 for your trouble too.  If you’d like to help, you can get in contact with the VA by going here.

Connect: @JonathanVets1 | Jonathan@ConnectingVets.com

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