By Debbie Gregory.
In an attempt to get veterans the treatment they have earned, a September 1st report calls for a complete overhaul of the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system.
The report, led by Mitre Corporation, included analysts from the Rand Corporation, McKinsey and Company, the Institute of Medicine, and Grant Thorton, Analysts concluded that the system is plagued by bureaucracy and leadership challenges. It also found that the quality of care can vary significantly, depending on where veterans receive treatment.
The report examined 12 segments of VA health care, including access to care, staffing, workflow, capabilities, business practices and more. It found that in addition to a leadership crisis, there are staffing shortages and a demoralized workforce.
Recommendations for improvement include cultivating a culture of service excellence among employees; holding employees accountable; instituting system-wide changes in administration, support and services; fostering respect through performance; and creating an office to oversee and implement change, with the fortitude to request funding to accomplish its goals.
The news wasn’t all bad; the report found that on many quality measures for outpatient care, the VA outperformed other health care systems. VA hospitals also performed equally or better than non-VA hospitals on some effective measures, such as inpatient mortality measures, but significantly worse on other measures like readmission standards.
The independent assessment comes as debate continues over whether VA should outsource or privatize veterans care.
Concerned Veterans For America (CVA) has called for a complete overhaul of the system, to include partially privatizing services. Under that plan, VA medical facilities would be reorganized under a nonprofit governmental organization and more veterans would be shifted to private health insurance programs.
VA Secretary Bob McDonald has denounced calls to increase privatization of services and says the VA mission to care for veterans is a “sacred trust” that the department will not relinquish.