By Team MOC

Veterans able to schedule VA appointments online starting January 2017
Photo credit: DVIDS, Petty Officer 2nd Class Johans Chavarro

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will join the rest of the internet starting January 2017 when they unveil real-time, online appointment scheduling. More than six million VA patients will be able to directly schedule their primary-care appointments via an app on their phone, computer, or tablet.

While the roll-out will only include primary-care appointments at first, the VA has plans to include audiology, optometry, and mental health appointments in the future.

The online scheduling program comes after heavily scrutinized and criticized events in the department which included secret year-long waitlists in Phoenix that led to the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki. VA officials hope the online scheduler will create more transparency for veterans and their families.

“I think it really increases the transparency of our system,” Kathy Frisbee, executive director for connected health in the VA’s office of connected care told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I mean, we are exposing our availability to the world.”

The program software comes with a $3.2 million price tag at a time when younger veterans are utilizing the VA in greater percentages than their older counterparts.