VA uses rapid access model to improve ER care

Veterans Affairs hospitals are adopting Rapid Access Clinic models to provide veterans with better follow-up care after emergency room treatment, according to a San Marcos Corridor News report.

Approximately 20 VA medical centers across the country are using the Rapid Access Clinic model, which the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center launched in 2015.

The model helps veterans arrange three-day follow-up appointments with specialists before they leave the ER, said Susan Kirsh, MD, VA's national director for clinical practice management. "In the past we'd send [veterans] home from the ER and tell [them] to make an appointment to see the specialist," Dr. Kirsh said. "We were basically leaving it up to [veterans]."

Under the rapid access model, the VA emergency department sends specialists patient information, which includes the patient's condition, X-rays, the date they came to the ER and what treatment they received from ER physicians.

"We'd like to see every VA emergency room adopt this best practice during the next year," Dr. Kirsh said. "It's simple, it's not that hard to do, it's effective and it doesn't cost anything. Most of all, it helps reduce the kind of fragmented care that afflicts so much of healthcare in this country today."

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