Department of Veterans Affairs: Improving the C&P Exam

The Veterans Experience Office (VEO) conducted customer research to uncover why the Compensation & Pension Exam (C&P Exam) was such a painful experience for so many Veterans. This exam is often required for Veterans to receive disability compensation, and is one part of a series of steps towards receiving that benefit.

The research revealed that not only was the exam painful, but the steps leading up to and following the exam were fairly hard to navigate as well. The exam was a primary moment in that experience because it was the first time, for many Veterans, that they heard from the VA regarding status of their claim; so it became the focal point for many customers.

However, we hypothesized that making improvements and filling gaps leading up to the exam could positively impact the exam  experience. All of the existing and potential service opportunities, if designed well as a system, would also improve the exam experience. We used this Breakthrough Initiative project, as directed by VA Secretary McDonald, to validate our hypotheses.

The team and project won a Secretary's Honor Award in 2017.


Human Centered Design Training and Mentoring

The VEO office partnered with Compensation Services to use human centered design methods to identify and validate improvements to the claims process. I led and moderated several workshops with internal claims SME's to train them on the process. We also held several brainstorming sessions to come up with and share multiple solutions to primary pain points in the claims process.

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Concept Validation Testing and Field Research

As part of our brainstorming, we developed multiple possible solutions for testing with Veterans. Using low fidelity prototypes, even simple sketches, proved valuable for feedback and prioritizing. The SMEs on our team took their concepts to the field and shared ideas with Veterans. Not only did they get input for improvements, or to identify confusion, they also overwhelmingly learned and appreciated the value of field research to iterate on hypotheses.



Journeymapping and Touchpoint Identification

We created a customer journeymap that mapped our concepts, as well as new ideas, and that were prioritized by Veterans. By focusing on solutions for these particular interactions across different channels, we knew we would address the issues that Veterans cared the most about. We also we able to dig into the back stage to unravel the workflow behind these touchpoints to understand the impact our ideas might have on existing systems. We also began brainstorming transactions that could be measured both for overall satisfaction as well as ways to make tactical improvements.



Seamless Touchpoints

We prioritized eight potential product ideas against value to Veterans, feasibility and internal viability/sustainment/support. As each one was developed and iterated, we tracked each one to make sure they were aligned in design, copy, and implementation. Each product impacted other ones, and we wanted to make sure that the system was being designed cohesively so Veterans would have a consistent experience along their claims journey.



C&P Exam Conference

We presented the VEO mission and how our HCD process was used to inform the C&P Exam Improvement project to an audience of over 500 VA Healthcare practitioners, leaders, and C&P examiners.

View presentation


SRI Website Redesign

Department of Veterans Affairs: Measuring Experience