You can measure your heart health, keep an eye on your home when you’re not there and buy groceries — all on your smartphone. Yet only 17 percent of people have the ability to schedule a doctor appointment online, according to research by PatientPop.

BlueStar - online scheduling

In support of the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs is testing a mobile app that would allow veterans to use a cellphone, tablet, computer or mobile device to schedule and confirm primary care, specialty care and mental health appointments.

“VA is making critical improvements to veteran health care and will always look to leverage innovative tools that will put more capabilities in the hands of veterans,” said VA Secretary David J. Shulkin. “Self-scheduling apps are widely used in the private sector and will help create a better experience for veterans and their medical care providers.”

Research indicates patients prefer to book an appointment with their doctor from a website or mobile app without having to call the office. Among the patients who have the ability to schedule an appointment online, more than one-third of appointments scheduled online were scheduled during closing hours. Additionally, online scheduling allows patients to fill open same-day and next-day slots.

Accenture predicts that by 2019,

  • 66 percent of U.S. health systems will offer online scheduling;
  • 64 percent of patients will use self-scheduling; and
  • 38 percent of appointments will be self-scheduled, totaling 986 million appointments.

As more veterans age and require more appointments for their specific medical management, online scheduling can help streamline processes and provide more scheduling choices and faster care.

The self-scheduling system app will be tested during an 18-month pilot program operational in at least three Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs), and the VA intends to continue development and incorporate new capabilities into the app.

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