The best information we receive on how well VA serves Veterans comes from Veterans themselves. Shortly after a visit to a hospital or clinic, Veterans may receive a survey that asks them about their visit.

The Survey of Healthcare Experience of Patients (SHEP) provides information to facility managers about the Veteran experience. Feedback includes ease and speed of making an appointment, if their provider spent enough time with them and if they discussed their medications.

Survey creators base SHEP surveys on Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Surveys. They focus on four health care areas: inpatient care, primary care, specialty care and care in the community. The survey information and other data, such as wait times, staffing data, direct observation or talking to patients, help to generate a robust picture of facility health and areas for improvement.

Impacts Veteran trust in quality of care

Experience tells us that these four areas are some of the key drivers that impact Veteran trust in the quality of care. The VA Office of Quality and Patient Safety, Analytics and Performance Integration Division, Office of Performance Measurement, conducts SHEP surveys.

“We use key driver analysis to focus on the questions that have a high impact on the overall rating. This analysis helps identify areas for improvement that negatively impact Veteran satisfaction as well as those areas performing well,” said James Flaherty, administrative officer for Surveys, Office of Performance Measurement, VHA Office of Analytics and Performance Integration.”By maintaining what is good and focusing improvement measures on problem areas, we expect ratings to improve over time. The quarterly reports provide gains or losses based on the previous reporting period.”

Survey based on type of care they receive

The staff selects Veterans based on the care they receive and the last time they completed a survey. The survey categories are:

  • Inpatient: For Veterans who are admitted for medical attention or surgery and discharged to home.
  • Primary/Specialty/Community Care: Veteran had a primary, specialty or community care visit in a target month and cannot have been sampled and responded within the last 12 months.

“We realize that while the Veteran’s voice is important, their time is important as well,” Flaherty said. “If a Veteran responds to one of our surveys, they will not receive another one for at least a year.”

VA averages about a 35% response rate. This indicates many Veterans invest in their own health care and appreciate having a voice in improving it. The number of patients surveyed varies based on the size of the facility and the type of care sought.

Confident we are taking the right actions

Flaherty says it’s important for Veterans to respond. “If we don’t know how we’re doing, we don’t know where to focus our efforts to improve care. The more people we hear from, the more reliable our information is and the more confident we are that we are looking in the right places and taking the right actions.”

VISN 6 Veteran Experience Officer Sharon Bostic says SHEP surveys impact the Veteran experience and improve clinical health outcomes in profound ways. “Sharing this data with our staff shows them the powerful impact they have on Veteran trust and quality of health care. It also drives employee engagement and makes them the owners of care and experience. Being involved in the change is a powerful motivator for both staff and patients.”

Bostic believes the SHEP surveys are an important component of VA becoming a trusted care provider. “Focusing on those moments that matter increases a Veterans understanding and ability to manage their health post-discharge. Good patient experience is good medicine. By giving them a good patient experience and always looking to improve it, we are giving them the skills and knowledge needed to stay healthy.”

Donna Stratford is the director of communications for the VHA Office of Quality and Patient Safety. She is an Air Force Veteran.

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Published on Jan. 30, 2021

Estimated reading time is 3.3 min.

Views to date: 1,536


  1. Ernest Linkous February 3, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    I am a 73 year old combat connected 100% disabled veteran. I must be lucky! I have had extremely excellent care and experience with my treatment in the two VA facilities where I have been treated and am currently being treated. La Jolla, Ca. and Mountain Home in NortheastTennessee. I am treated respectfully and all my medical issues are handled with professionalism.

  2. Rodney Gregg February 1, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    I could not ask for better care at VA Outpatient Clinic . Yeah to Dr. Cheng. Also the Dallas VA Hospital Wound Care Clinic . the best ever . Dr. Cortez . I respectfully call him Dr. Daddy , he takes that good a care of me . Both these Doctors go beyond and above their care requirements . I have many things wrong with me , a multimorbidity patient and I can not ask for any better care from those two. God Bless Them ! Both are such a blessing in my life !! I wish they could get the appreciation they both so justly deserve !
    Rodney L. Gregg

  3. Carlos Parscal February 1, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    VA is waiting on Congress on the three new agent orange diseases. Vietnam veterans have always been the last.

  4. Bill Williams February 1, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    You guys can’t even get a webpage right! The Capcha process where you are asked to place an answer, before they allow your comment, presumably because it wants to weedout bots etc, is a fraud. It asked me to answer the following question 20 x 30 (20 times 30) and 21×24, but there is only enough space to enter 2 characters. LMAO

  5. Terry G McCreary February 1, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Overton Brooks VAMC doesn’t care for patients. I am in serious pain with my rt knee. I am being put aside.

  6. Robert taylor February 1, 2021 at 7:18 am

    I had good care at the temple VA hospital. Sadly the hospital/clinics were overwhelmed with new patients. My care went to poor when a PhD in pharmacy attempted to treat my diabetes.
    I then transferred to Shreveport VA hospital and my care was spotty. With the virus I went private in Tyler. My care improved dramatically. Yet my longview clinic is kind enough to send medicine to my home. The VA in temple was a very good facility until they were overwhelmed by new patients.

  7. Joseph Frigge February 1, 2021 at 6:02 am

    When lab warnings are ignored by Primary NP for over a year then when it is finally addressed it’s too late. I have full blown Cancer. Another time I called for increased pain in my back and shoulders. Again I was ignored and not given anything. I finally ended up in a local ER where I received a shot for the pain and given 80mg of Prednisone per day to fight severe infection. Still no apology from the VA..
    Also After a whole year the pain in my leg is still there. 40 times it was mentioned in my health records but never resolved. I went from being able to run and climb to being in a mobility scooter.

  8. David Schrader February 1, 2021 at 4:23 am

    Most of my healthcare providers have been great.
    I am diabetic and been having substantial spikes in my blood sugar tests.
    The Southern Nevada Healthcare system hospital refuses to let me see an endocrinologist. I used to see my endocrinologist every 3 – 6 months until she left. That has been over two years since I have been in to see an endocrinologist. I would rate this situation as a minus 10. This has been before the Chinese COVID-19, so the VA can’t use COVID-19 as an excuse.

  9. Dennis Keogh January 31, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Tried getting help with billing. Could never get to a person in billing for my question.
    So I mailed my bill back to my local VAMC where warranty service was rendered & should not have been billed.

  10. Robert Vangelisti January 31, 2021 at 7:56 pm


  11. Yvonne Bivins-Washington January 31, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    The VA Biloxi, MS is most bias with Black RNs doing orientation. If the powers at be doesn’t like you, you’re gone, especially if they feel threaten by your wealth of knowledge.

  12. Paul J Glova January 31, 2021 at 7:44 pm

    I live in Tennessee and the VA healthcare that I receive here is the worst care that I have ever experienced. The funny thing is when you mention it to someone who works at or with the VA here, their reply is “yeah, I know”. And nothing ever gets done about it. I’ve contacted the VA hotline in Washington DC over ten days ago with no reply or anything! From what I can tell no one in the state cares about helping veterans, they just want the paycheck and do little with regard to actually helping someone. They don’t want you to commit suicide, yet they are not willing to do anything to help me. This sucks! I volunteered for nothing!!

  13. Nathan Jackson January 31, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    I have no healthcare I don’t even expect to survive much more than a year or two half my injuries aren’t even in my medical records I noticed they won’t combine my medical records in any way United Healthcare has one half VA has another half none of them are talking about what happened to me during an endoscopy that I didn’t even need 2016 before and after CT’s tell enough. I have over half a dozen torn ribs smashed out of place even severed organs and body parts that no one will talk to me about that won’t give me anything for it and tell me anything about it it just gets ignored and that’s not even my military injury or why I even went in there that’s not even in my medical records. I I don’t have the ability to do this anymore

  14. Keith Freeland January 31, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    This new online travel reimbursement is worthless. Can’t get response when you try to register online for an account. Call the number given for assistance it rings several times and you get hung up on. Why can’t we still submit paper claims. I am still trying to get travel pay from nov.2020. probably missed time line now. This online system sucks. Tell your it people not all of us computer wizards like they are.

  15. Carla J. Snider January 31, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    I get tired of feeling like I fall into a crack. Being a female, 100 percent service connected I think I see it more then men do.
    Dr’s don’t listen when you see them. New Primary didn’t know what meds I was on. Home Health company can’t seem to get proper paperwork or old phone numbers that are no long in service. Then when you do get ahold of a supervisor they say they have asked them to fix it they don’t. Now for over a year.
    Interns who have never been showed how to start an IV seem to makes us their experiment. Ask a Nurse for help and they say they are not allowed to.

  16. Tom Sizemore January 31, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    Two Issues:
    1. In August 2020, I was admitted to the Mather VA Hospital for a AFIB Heart. While in Intensive Care I kept asking for water to drink but the staff would not provide any. I was very dehydrated. The second day they jump started my heart and it return to its normal rhythm. Stop no water except for small pill container cups. I got so upset that I got up and walked out. This is not care.
    2. I had an infection on the inside of my right thigh and and had a case of Jock Itch. In July 2020, my Doctor ordered some Desenex which provided no relief. I called the Dermatology Dept to schedule an appointment. They never answered the phone. Finally I got an appointment, saw a Doctor but I still have the Jock Itch.

    I called on the 1-29-21 to schedule an appointment with
    My Doctor for my Annual checkup. Now in 2019 and 2020 I underwent Radiation and Chemo for Prostate Cancer. The earliest appointment was September 2021. I could have a telephone appointment for a earlier but how does a Doctor review my Rash?
    Is this quality Medical Treatment?
    Am I being told that I need to go someplace else?
    I would like to have a response in writing from you, not your staff trying to impress you.

    Tom Sizemore

  17. Rodney Jones January 31, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    I blessed with world class healthcare at the Tucson VA medical center. They are awesome!⚓

  18. Ronald E. Chan January 31, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    I was injured April 14, 2018, and a snow storm was going on in Minnesota, and the Ambulance couldn’t take me to our VA Hospital in the Twin Cities. I was taken to our local Hospital where I received excellent care. My wife reported it to a local VA number and was told after insurance paid, out of pocket costs will be taken care of. After a number of months the Providers told me if you don’t pay the out of pocket cost to us it will go to court. When I got that information I again contacted the VA and was told not to pay the out of pocket costs. The 6 Providers that I had again reaffirmed pay up or else, in so many words. I then paid $2792.72 to 6 Providers.
    I called the VA back and was told to send the Statements to a address in Ft. Harrison, Mont for payment to me. After a number of months with no payments, I again called the VA and told me I was given the wrong information, that the Providers have to send the Statements to Minneapolis VA, then is sent to St. Cloud, Minn. VA, and they send to Ft. Harrison, Mont, which I did. After a few months with no payment to me I just gave up on it. The latter part of 2020 I heard from the VA and now that the law suite of WOLFE VS WILKIE has been settled, the VA must pay Veterans all out of pocket costs in the past and in the future. Was told to call VA in Denver on instruction, which I did. Was told to call all 6 providers back and they should submit a message with the statement and EOB to VA Office of Community Care in Tampa, Fla. which they did. That was in Oct. 2020. Since then I have talked to Denver twice with no results. What is going on with the VA?

  19. Matt Ovaska January 31, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Can’t do a survey on the health care I could not get…The VA Hosp does not answer their phone. You can’t just show up. I called the president’s hot line. They answered but hung up when I asked them about Agent Orange. Just sayin.

  20. Deacon Jeff Barton January 31, 2021 at 11:17 am

    The VA at Captain Lovel Hospital gives outstanding service, they have done everything during this time Covid-19 to offer outstanding service. Not just the great service you get from all the wonderful Doctors and Nurses, but also they have a very good Move program going that is run by Lynnsey Bogash she is doing a outstanding job for all Vets. They also have great Tele Conference calls to keep Vets inform of out is going on at the Hospital.

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