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VA announces independent review

The new head of the Department of Veterans Affairs said that the department has initiated an independent review of scheduling practices at all VA medical facilities

The new head of the Department of Veterans Affairs said that the department has initiated an independent review of scheduling practices at all VA medical facilities.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald on Aug. 8 announced that every VA medical center will undergo an independent review of scheduling and access practices beginning in the fall. The reviews will be conducted by the Joint Commission—an independent nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies U.S. health care organizations and programs.

“VA is committed to instilling integrity into our scheduling practices to deliver the timely care that veterans deserve,” McDonald said. “It is important that our scheduling practices be reviewed by a respected, independent source to help restore trust in our system, and I’m grateful to the Joint Commission for taking on this critical task.”

During his first trip as VA secretary—to the Phoenix VA Health Care System where events initiated this year's shake-up of the department—McDonald also announced a number of actions aimed at improving access to care.

Among those, VA will:

  • Require VA medical center directors to notify the VA under secretary for health if access or quality-of-care standards are not being met;
  • Review all senior leader performance plans in the Veterans Health Administration to align them with outcomes that ensure patient satisfaction;
  • Review VA’s employee performance goals to ensure they focus on providing timely quality care; and
  • Require medical center directors to ensure that all VA staff with scheduling privileges complete mandatory scheduler training in compliance.

On the occasion of his visit to Phoenix, McDonald also outlined actions that VA has taken specifically to address the needs of the Phoenix VAHCS.

Those actions included: increasing the use of contracts with community partners to schedule vets waiting to be seen; expanding hours of operation; making more primary care, mental health and other specialty care appointments available; making more temporary clinic space available by bringing in mobile medical units; and hiring more physicians, nurses and clerks to bolster staff in clinics and community-based outpatient clinics.

Reader comments

Tue, Aug 12, 2014

The most interesting aspect to congress review and sweeping changes is the culture of the environment no one seems to address. Do they ever take the time to assess the culture of the VA environment. Imagine a environment where the union is perceived to be weak and those in position of power are untouchable. Arent these the same oversight committees that pay 210.00 for a pen?

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