The Amarillo VA Health Care System recently hosted its first-ever Telephone-Town Hall event with Texas Panhandle Veterans using a new communication technology platform.

The Town Hall educated Veterans about ongoing construction and modernization efforts, Mission Act improvements with Urgent Care expansion, and also highlighted the Amarillo VA’s recent accomplishment as one of the top performing VA health care systems in the country–as identified through the VA’s Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL) comparison tool.

In addition to providing a new avenue to provide information to a large rural population, the Tele-Town Hall provided a way for the Amarillo VA leadership to receive feedback in a way they normally wouldn’t in the traditional Town Hall set up.

“While our Tele-Town Hall was able to take limited live questions, each Veteran was given the opportunity to leave a voicemail at the end of the Town Hall, so his or her voice could be heard,” said Froy Garza, Interim Medical Center Director. “We had 151 Veterans leave a message, where our Patient Advocate Team was able to identify each individual concern or question and provide a response for each Veteran after the Town Hall was over.”

Positive response

Over 11,000 Veterans joined the call from the surrounding area. More than 4,000 Veterans connected with the Amarillo VA via the Tele-Town Hall phone invitation and more than 1,000 were still on the line at the end of the one-hour town hall.

The response from the telephone-based event was also very positive from the Veterans surveyed.

“During the event, we polled our Veterans using this new technology about their experiences with accessing VA services and also asked the participants if they like this new format. A resounding 97% found this format especially helpful,” Garza said. “I believe this format serves our mission of finding innovative ways to deliver information to our Veterans about the services and benefits they have earned. This is especially important considering we cover a 50-county radius, where it can be very difficult for our Veterans to drive sometimes up to 2 hours or more to participate in a town hall. It is my desire to continue to utilize technology in ways that will help us improve the delivery of care while also improving the Veteran experience.”

The Amarillo VA is targeting their next Tele-Town Hall to for Veterans who access care at its Lubbock and Clovis Community-Based Outpatient Clinics on March 5.

Joel Mease is a public affairs officer at the Amarillo VA Health Care System

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Published on Feb. 29, 2020

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