Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center
Receive Appointment Reminders Via Text Messaging
If you have a cell phone, you can now receive reminders of upcoming VA health care appointments via a text message. The Veterans Health Administration created VEText, an interactive mobile solution, to do just that. And there’s no software or app to download, either.
Effective May 15, all Veterans receiving their health care at any of Walla Walla VA Medical Center’s clinic locations now have the option to receive a VEText appointment reminders, which allows a Veteran a quick and easy way to confirm and/or cancel appointments. You may already be receiving messages if your cell phone number is in your health record.
Did you know that over 9 million VA health care appointments go unutilized each year due to missed appointments? This convenient option to cancel an appointment gives other Veterans the opportunity to use these newly available appointment slots. Just since the program began in March of this year, the national no-show rate has declined from 13.68 percent to 12.22 percent.
Every enrolled Veteran with a cell phone number listed in their health record is automatically enrolled in the program. If you are not already receiving text message appointment reminders, be sure to update your cell phone number during check-in at your next appointment or use the self-service kiosks located throughout our facilities. You can also have your record updated when you speak with a call center representative.
As of May 31, VEText has sent appointment reminders to more than five million unique Veterans with over 9 million messages exchanged. Also, the system has allowed 134,000 appointments to be cancelled via a simple response, creating an open slot for another Veteran and possibly preventing a no-show.
The first text message reminder is sent seven days before the appointment, and a second reminder text message sent two days prior to the appointment. Note the timing/frequency of the reminders may vary by facility. Veterans are encouraged to review the date and time of each appointment and use the prompts provided in the message to either confirm or cancel the appointment. Veterans with multiple appointments on the same day will receive multiple reminders.
The VEText system also has an easy-to-use opt-out process for Veterans who do not want to use the text messaging reminders. Simply reply to the text message with "STOP." Additionally, all appointment reminder messages contain instructions on how to end the message delivery. And if you want to restart the text message appointment reminders, simply text "START" to a previous reminder message and service will resume.
VEText works for VA health care appointments only, and the text messages will not currently replace the letters and automated phone calls Veterans already receive for appointment reminders.
As a reminder, text messaging rates may apply depending on your individual cell phone plan. For a preview of the VEText messaging, text the word DEMO to 909.245.9443.