Recent investigations into appointment scheduling within facilities operated by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) illuminate systemic challenges in meeting its goal of providing timely access to care for all Veterans. In the wake of these investigations, new policies have been enacted to expand access to care at VA facilities as well as non-VA facilities if the VA is unable to provide access within a reasonable timeframe or a Veteran lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility. These policies are similar to broader health reform efforts that seek to expand access to care for other vulnerable populations. In this perspective, we discuss the informatics implications of expanded access within the VA and its wider applicability across the US health system. Health systems will require robust health information exchange, to maintain coordination while access to care is expanded. Existing informatics research can guide short-term implementation; furthermore, new research is needed to generate evidence about how best to achieve the long-term aim of expanded access to care.
Keywords: health services accessibility; health services research; medical informatics; veterans health.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Medical Informatics Association 2015. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US.