Kiosks Connect Veterans
by Jo Schuda
are in most veterans minds when they visit a VA medical facility?
Dont think too long - here are the answers:
- Am I eligible
- What am
I eligible for?
- How much
will it cost?
Services Now, Benefit Programs Coming Soon
veterans visiting six VA medical facilities can get those questions
answered, and much more information, at a kiosk in a lobby or clinic
waiting room. Touch-screen displays tell them what health-care services
they can receive and, coming soon - with the swipe of an identification
card - what medical appointments they have scheduled.
In an effort
to make these medical center kiosks One VA points of customer service,
the Veterans Benefits Administration will soon add information on
its benefits programs. Kiosk screens will offer veterans Web-enabled
access to information about compensation and pension, home loans,
education benefits and vocational rehabilitation programs.
Customized to Local Community
part of a national health-care eligibility communications effort,
the kiosks also give VA medical service networks local control of
information provided to veterans, their family members and VA employees.
When the kiosks connect to printers, for example, veterans are able
to print maps of the VA hospitals that guide them to a specific
For three months
last spring, kiosks were tested in a pilot program at VA medical
facilities in Dallas, Lexington, Ky., Orlando, Fla., Batavia, N.Y.,
and Baltimore. VA Health Administration Service (HAS) arranged to
have kiosk users interviewed at three of the sites. About 80 percent
thought the information offered was relevant and easy to understand.
They asked for more information about their individual situations.
The capability exists for medical centers to connect the kiosks
to their local area computer networks to make individual records
accessible through the use of a veterans identification card.
Since the test,
the Topeka, Kan., VA Medical Center has installed a similar kiosk.
The West Los Angeles and San Diego VA medical centers have installed
kiosks with some different functions.
HAS makes kiosks
available to VISNs for about $8,000 each, plus shipping and installation,
loaded with standard content, including a description of the uniform
package of health benefits available to veterans enrolled in the
VA health-care system. Internal tracking allows medical centers
to know what information is used most on the kiosks. I addition
to touch-screen displays, a video narrator guides the user.
Kent Simonis said since the machines are Web-enabled, standard information
can be centrally updated. He said veterans like being able to access
medical information on the Internet. Facilities receive a lot of
centralized technical support, too. Diagnostic queries are made
through the Web. If a malfunctioning printer is found, for example,
a technical support specialist can call the site and have it fixed
on the spot.
using the kiosks want to expand their capabilities. VA Pharmacy
Service hopes to develop applications that will allow veterans to
order prescription refills and receive medication literature on
line through the kiosk. Eventually, veterans will be able to enroll
in the veterans health-care system on-line at the kiosks.
benefits information now in the kiosks is from VHA headquarters,
based on inquiries veterans have made nearly 500,000 since
June 1998 to a health-care eligibility toll-free phone center.
about the kiosks to Kent Simonis at 202-273-8398.
a member of the Federal Communicators Network, is a public affairs
specialist, Office of Public Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs
Central Office, Washington, DC. You may contact her at 202-273-5733