In this analysis from Health Law 360, it is reported that the Government Accounting Office found that the VA failed to meet its call response time goals for a line set up to support veterans in emotional distress. The goal was 90% within 30 seconds, but the reality appeared to be more like 65-70% within either 30 or 60 seconds. That’s not great obviously, but at first blush it does not seem to be really awful. However, there is a bit more to this. While 99% of calls are answered within 120 seconds, “covert testing” found that four out of fourteen contacts got no response. That is rather telling - and quite troubling. The report also found that the VA has not developed measurable targets and time frames for its key performance indicators, such as the program’s percentage of abandoned calls. In other words, if you stayed on the line for 2 minutes then 99% got answered, maybe. But that doesn’t jive with the covert testing. Moreover, there is no tracking of those callers who just gave up. Think about it: Two minutes, 120 seconds, waiting for someone to pick up is not quick. Lot’s of veterans surely just hang up. If you’re going to have a hotline for those in crisis, the response has to be fast. I suppose it is no surprise that the VA response times are slow and it does not even measure abandoned calls. This is sad and frustrating, but hardly unexpected.
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