The initiatives are numerous in a new plan to restructure the Department of Veterans Affairs in just one year, but details initially are lacking.
Information technology projects will play a supporting role in the effort to revamp the culture and administrative processes that led to so many veterans not receiving care in a timely manner.
For instance, to elevate transparency and public trust, the VA has posted information online nine times since June updating the number of appointments on waiting lists and the average wait time at each VA medical center, and quality and safety data is being published for each center, according to a recently released Action Review report. The department also will post medical center performance data on the Medicare Hospital Compare Website.
VA soon will issue a request for proposal to purchase new scheduling software and expects an interim milestone towards this acquisition in spring 2015. Unspecified updates to the VistA electronic health records system, including seamless healthcare data interoperability with the Department of Defense, also are being planned.
The most important IT initiative may be improving and better integrating veteran-facing functions. The department presently has at least a dozen Web sites with no single point of contact for veterans--requiring different usernames and passwords to access the sites. As part of a new customer service organization across the VA, which will be led by a Chief Customer Service Officer, regional frameworks will be created to enhance customer service to enable veterans to navigate within VA, including use of a single username and password to access any vet-facing Web sites.
VA Secretary Bob McDonald during a 60-Minutes interview on Nov. 9 said veterans currently face nine different organization structures across the nation and dont know where to go, or the right people to see. Weve got to get to one Website, one entry point, and then fan people out from there.
Other major initiatives in the reform plan include going through an administrative judicial process to fire up to 40 managers as soon as possible with various levels of disciplinary actions also to be taken against more than 1,000 other employees, increasing physician pay, and hiring up to 28,000 physicians, nurses and other providers including 2,500 mental health professionals.
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