The VA announced last month that veterans who receive care at VA medical centers will now be able to schedule routine appointments at local optometry and audiology clinics without a referral from their Primary Care Manager (PCM).
Until now, veterans who needed routine eye or ear care would have to make an appointment with their PCM, get a referral for a consult visit, and then wait for clinic personnel to contact them to schedule the consult appointment. This process often resulted in a wait of several weeks before the veteran actually got to see an optometrist or audiologist.
The Audiology and Optometry Direct Scheduling Initiative, which started as a pilot program in 2015 at 3 VA sites, is now being expanded to all VA medical centers. The Initiative is expected to be fully implemented at all VA medical centers by the end of 2016. It should not only drastically reduce veterans’ wait times for routine ear and eye appointments, but it is anticipated that it will also free up primary care physicians’ schedules, making it easier and quicker for veterans to get appointments with their PCM.