Average Wait Times at Individual Facilities
Wait time data on VA’s Access to Care site comes from Veteran appointments completed over the past month.
Wait times can vary from the average wait times on this site. The best way to find out when your appointment can be scheduled is to call or go online and request an appointment.
Access to Care Website FAQ and Response to Query
- Viewing Wait Times at Individual Facilities
- Check out the Wait Times Video for a video overview of how to view wait times at individual facilities.
- How can I find out when an appointment will be available for a specific procedure or within a specific service area at my VA medical center or clinic?
- From this website, you’re able to view each VA location, by clinic type to see the average number of days it took for other Veterans to schedule an appointment over the past month. This information provides you an idea of how long it may take to be seen in the same location. Because there are many variables in determining appointment availability – your health concerns, schedules, and more – this tool cannot tell you exactly when your specific appointment can be scheduled.The only way to get a specific appointment date is when you schedule your appointment with a clinic.
- How often is this wait time data updated?
- Wait time data on the Access to Care site is updated at least every two weeks and incorporates averages from completed appointments from the past month.
- How does VA calculate average wait times?
Wait times on this site are based on actual times Veterans have waited for appointments, based on completed appointments from the prior month. The calculation is different for established Veterans seeking a return appointment versus Veterans seeking an appointment in a new clinic. We do this to better represent the actual time Veterans waited for an appointment. Measuring wait times from the date the appointment was requested until the date the appointment is completed is the most accurate measure for new Veterans because it is the actual average number of days Veterans have waited for an appointment.
Historically, more than 87 percent of our completed appointments are for established Veterans – that is a Veteran seeking an appointment in a clinic that he or she has been seen in before. Established patient wait times are calculated using the date the Veteran and provider agree is the next time the Veteran should be seen. We call this the Patient Indicated Date or PID. For example, if a provider sees a Veteran on September 1 and following that appointment the provider and Veteran agree that a return appointment is needed in six weeks, we do not start the clock today – the day the request was made – we start the clock six weeks from today, the day the Veteran and provider agree the appointment is needed in the future. If the first available appointment after six weeks is actually six weeks plus three days, then the wait time is three (3) days.
For more information, please review the Outpatient Scheduling Processes and Procedures 1230 Directive found here:
While these wait time measures represent one aspect of the Veteran experience in accessing VA health care, we are working with third-party experts to better understand and develop standard metrics that capture the complex and variable data points involved to provide a more complete picture of access. This could include Veteran experience measures including trust and satisfaction scores among others.
- How does the private sector calculate and report wait times?
- Experts across health care agree that wait times are an important piece in measuring access to care, but only one piece that alone cannot provide a full or accurate picture. Further, there is no national standard for measuring wait times or access to care in the U.S. and making comparisons between VA and private care is difficult at best. VA has brought third-party experts together – leaders from private health care organizations, academia, and non-partisan think-tanks – to begin a discussion about standardizing the way access to care is measured and reported.
- What do I do if I need to be seen for an issue that can’t wait until my next scheduled appointment or if I can’t schedule an appointment in a timely manner?
Each situation is different, but there are several options to consider. First, if you believe your life or health is in danger, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. For situations that are non-emergent, but urgent, such as the treatment of minor injuries and illness, such as colds, sore throats and minor skin infections, VA offers urgent care at many VA facilities and in the community for eligible Veterans. You can find more information about VA urgent care online.
VA also offers Same-Day Services that could include a face-to-face or virtual appointment such as telehealth if needed, a phone call or secure messaging to answer your health concerns, or refilling a prescription. You may also be able to schedule a future appointment if appropriate.
- What types of facilities can I get same-day services for primary care and mental health?
- VA offers same-day services in primary care and mental health at every medical center. Medical centers are full hospitals that have either emergency rooms or urgent care, many types of clinics, and allow Veterans to stay overnight in the facility if they are too sick to go home. Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) are clinics that may not have the full set of services that a medical center has. Same-day services are now also available at many CBOCs. Same-day services may be available for other specialties and you should talk to your provider about this.
- What does it mean when the tool provides a response of "No New Appointments" or "No Return Appointments" under Average Wait Time?
- This is an appropriate response to indicate there were zero new or return appointments completed in the prior month for that clinic or location.
- Does VA offer alternatives to in-person medical appointments?
Yes. VA uses advanced technologies that that allow us to offer other ways to receive care that may include the following:
- Telehealth Appointments – this includes virtual appointments between VA locations, between a VA and other locations such as VFW halls, American Legion halls or some Walmart stores, or video conferencing with a VA provider from your personal computer or other connected device.
- Telephone Appointments
- Vet Center Program (readjustment counseling, military sexual trauma (MST) counseling and bereavement counseling services
- Mobile Medical Units (MMU)
- Urgent Care Centers
- Walk-in Clinics
- Emergency Rooms
- Sometimes, your care provider may ask a specialist for an electronic consult. The specialist will give an opinion using the medical record without requiring an appointment from you. This may be the only type of technology needed to address a particular concern or may be used to prepare your team and you for an upcoming appointment.
- What is VA doing to improve access to care for Veterans?
- Veterans are choosing VA more than ever, with more options for how they want to be seen. This is possible as the result of strategic initiatives across VA, including becoming more efficient, improving the way we schedule appointments, hiring new employees, creating and requiring new training, upgrading our scheduling software and conducting scheduling audits to ensure the changes are being properly implemented.
- What can Veterans do to help?
- We want to serve Veterans and provide you the highest quality of care. That is our mission. We work every day to improve the Veteran experience and provide care when and where Veterans need it. One area where Veterans can help is to let us know when they are not going to be there for their scheduled appointment. When you cancel your appointment in advance, we can often provide that time slot to another Veteran. We are making it easier for Veterans to let us know when they need to cancel, sending appointment reminder messages to Veterans using a program called VEText. Since we started using VEText in 2018, we have seen improvements in no-show rates, creating millions of additional appointment slots for other Veterans. We also welcome your feedback. VA sends surveys to Veterans after receiving care from VA and this feedback helps us to know where we are doing well, and where we can continue to improve. Thank you for allowing us to provide your health care.
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