Non-Clinical Topics

MD Lawmakers Urge VA to Hire Scribes to Increase Physician Efficiency

MD Lawmakers Urge VA to Hire Scribes to Increase Physician Efficiency

With medical staff often overwhelmed by documentation and data-entry requirements, VA should use medical scribes more widely across its system, two physician lawmakers recently urged.

TRICARE Promises Cost Savings for Everyone with RX Shift

TRICARE Promises Cost Savings for Everyone with RX Shift

It’s a case of bad news-good news: TRICARE beneficiaries, as of Oct. 1, have fewer options for getting certain prescriptions filled, but their costs are lower.

DoD, VA Scolded Again for EHR Interoperability Delays

DoD, VA Scolded Again for EHR Interoperability Delays

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — DoD informed Congress last month that it has met key interoperability requirements set forth in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. DoD Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendell wrote in a… Read More

Philadelphia VAMC Pharmacy Focuses More on Customers to Increase Satisfaction

Philadelphia VAMC Pharmacy Focuses More on Customers to Increase Satisfaction

When outpatient pharmacy customer satisfaction scores plunged below 40% on a recent survey, pharmacists in Philadelphia responded with several quality-improvement initiatives and were rewarded with significantly improved ratings.

Electronic Triggers Speed up Follow-up for Cancer Diagnosis, Care at Houston VAMC

Electronic Triggers Speed up Follow-up for Cancer Diagnosis, Care at Houston VAMC

By Brenda L. Mooney HOUSTON — Over the last years, the VA has struggled with ways to reduce follow-up delays for patients, such as those being evaluated for cancer. Researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC and Baylor College of… Read More

Common Dementia Drugs Linked To Dangerous Weight Loss in Veterans

Common Dementia Drugs Linked To Dangerous Weight Loss in Veterans

By Brenda L. Mooney SAN FRANCISCO – New research on cholinesterase inhibitors is reducing the already limited options VA clinicians have to treat VA patients with dementia. More than a half-million veterans have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia, with most… Read More

Veterans Choice Program Eases Process Somewhat for Outside Prescriptions

Veterans Choice Program Eases Process Somewhat for Outside Prescriptions

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON — Veterans who receive care through the Veterans Choice Program may not have many choices when it comes to prescriptions from those outside providers, but they do have more than those who receive prescriptions from… Read More

VHA Review Suggests BRAC-Like Commission on Closing Facilities

VHA Review Suggests BRAC-Like Commission on Closing Facilities

Asks If Only Service-Related Conditions Should Be Treated By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—The VA should consider establishing a board or commission similar to the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to address policy issues like hospital closures in an “objective… Read More

Long-Acting Insulins Approved by FDA

PLAINSBORO, NJ – Physicians treating diabetes patients have new weapons in their arsenal. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved Tresiba (insulin degludec injection) and Ryzodeg 70/30 (insulin degludec/insulin aspart injection) to improve glucose control in adults with diabetes mellitus.… Read More

Team-Based ED Program Halves Inappropriate Prescribing for Older Veterans

Team-Based ED Program Halves Inappropriate Prescribing for Older Veterans

In the bustle of a hectic VAMC emergency department, do healthcare providers always remember which common medications are often problematic for older veterans? Usually not.

VA: Disability Claims Backlog Reduced to Lowest Ever

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—Calling it a “historic milestone,” the VA announced last month that it has reduced the disability claims backlog to the lowest it has ever been.  As of last month, the claims backlog stood at 98,535 — an… Read More

Honored AF Major Promotes Greater Primary Care Role for Pharmacists

Honored AF Major Promotes Greater Primary Care Role for Pharmacists

In 2012, pharmacists at Hill Air Force Base had 84 direct patient-to-pharmacist clinical interactions a year. Today there are 9,600 patient interactions.

Contracted Program for Timely VA Healthcare Also Plagued by Delays

Contracted Program for Timely VA Healthcare Also Plagued by Delays

A program designed to provide timely healthcare to veterans outside of VA is itself hampered by delays in care, according to a new report from the VA Office of Inspector General.

Faced with Shortfall, VA Gets Flexibility to Pay for HCV, Outside Care

Faced with Shortfall, VA Gets Flexibility to Pay for HCV, Outside Care

After VA officials warned that hospital shutdowns or staff furloughs might be necessary without more budgetary flexibility, lawmakers rushed through legislation to ensure that would not occur.

Bills Propose More Leeway to Discipline VA Staff

Bills Propose More Leeway to Discipline VA Staff

Healthcare Employees Targeted in Some Versions By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A bill recently passed by the House of Representatives would make it easier for VA to demote or fire employees beyond the senior executive service (SES) level, including healthcare… Read More

Caution Urged in Prescribing Benzodiazepines to Veterans Using Opioids

Caution Urged in Prescribing Benzodiazepines to Veterans Using Opioids

Researchers are urging VA clinicians to be cautious about prescribing benzodiazepines to veterans already taking opioid painkillers.

That’s in light of a new study, published online recently by the British Medical Journal, finding that nearly half of all veterans who died from drug overdoses while on opioids were also receiving higher doses of benzodiazepines, often used for anxiety, insomnia or alcohol withdrawal.

Study: Alzheimer’s Disease Blood Test Would Be Feasible

LOS ANGELES — A new study provides the first evidence that a simple blood test could be developed to confirm the presence of beta amyloid proteins in the brain, which could help in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. No reliable… Read More

Air Force Recruits Show Reduced Levels of Immunity to Common Diseases

Air Force Recruits Show Reduced Levels of Immunity to Common Diseases

Lower immunization rates have increased the number of U.S. outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, even of those considered eradicated in this country, such as measles.

New DHA Screening Process Brings Drug Compounding Costs to 2% of April Levels

New DHA Screening Process Brings Drug Compounding Costs to 2% of April Levels

DHA Pharmacy Chief Says “Nefarious Actors” Targeted Beneficiaries By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON — In April, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) spent $18 million a day in compound drug claims. By July, the daily costs had dropped to $360,000 as… Read More

Medication, Surgery Combat Biological Changes Associated with Obesity

Medication, Surgery Combat Biological Changes Associated with Obesity

Overweight and Sustained Obesity Require Different Approaches By Annette M. Boyle PROVIDENCE, RI — Eat less, move more has long been the mantra for weight loss. But new research indicates the mainstays of diet and exercise simply aren’t enough for… Read More