- Introduction: A Top-Level Look at the Future of Federal Medicine
- Military Health System in Time of Transition as Conflicts End
- Army Medicine: Redefining Its Role in the Generation of a Ready and Resilient Force
- Air Force Medicine: Averting an Identity Crisis
- Moving Forward with Reforming the Indian Health Service
- The Clinical Pharmacy Specialist's Growing Provider Role in VA
- Public Health Service Pharmacy: Accelerating Transformation
- Military Pain Management’s Future: Less Invasive, More Data-Driven Techniques
- Navy Medicine: Strong, Agile and Ready
- Telemental Health in VA: A New Source of Support for Veterans
What Does the Future Look Like for VA HealthCare Cont.
If our patients are to receive excellent healthcare, we must have excellent healthcare systems and processes. That’s why I’ve asked every individual in VHA to identify ways to improve our healthcare system. We’re also taking a sophisticated approach to continuously evaluating and improving our care. We’re hiring systems engineers, methodically analyzing issues and using proven methods to make sure our VHA is highly reliable and performing at its peak.
One area we recently analyzed was nursing care. We came up with a surprising finding. When we began, we knew that the more time a nurse spends at a patient’s bedside, the faster a patient gets well. But how do you get a busy nurse to spend more time with patients? To find out, we examined all the steps nurses go through as they care for patients. We conducted a complex analysis and, in the end, determined that nurses were, indeed, busy – but that 40% of their time on inpatient wards was lost to the burdens placed by the immediate demands of fixing broken processes, leaving them unable to be with patients.
For example, if the transportation team in the hospital is unavailable one day, that means the nurse must transport a patient to radiation for X-rays. The result is time away from other patients and stress on other nurses, who must cover for the nurse while he or she is gone. The process is broken – it would be more efficient and better for patients if a backup transportation team or a more appropriate person were available to transport the patient.
VHA is analyzing and fixing these types of problems in our systems and processes throughout the country. Time after time, we find that we can easily solve most problems by simply spending time upfront to ensure our procedures and processes are highly reliable.
Data Driven, Evidence-Based
Another goal of our transformation is to ensure that our patients and clinicians have all the available information, evidence and data they need to make the best possible healthcare choices. We want to ensure the right information is available to the right people at the right time and in the right way to support optimal healthcare delivery.
For longer than 10 years, VA has been the leader in using health information technology, health data and performance measurement to make dramatic improvements in the quality of care for veterans. VHA was the first major national healthcare system to adopt an electronic health record and has continued to improve and enhance information technology to support clinical care.
What’s more, we are on the forefront of the movement to empower patients by giving them electronic access to health information. Our Web portal, My HealtheVet, gives veterans access to trusted health information, links to federal and VA benefits and resources, a personal health journal and the ability to fill prescriptions online.
In the future, we plan to leverage the power of informatics to improve care quality and safety for individual patients, enhance health outcomes for the wider population and strengthen the clinician-patient relationship. The role of informatics is crucial in reaching our diverse veteran population and truly meeting their needs.
Improving Long-Term Health
As we transform VHA, it is essential that we improve the long-term health and well-being of veterans. To achieve this goal, we hired new health promotion/disease prevention program managers and health behavior coordinators in every facility. We’re teaching clinicians the best way to help patients make difficult behavior changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. And, we’re developing new resources for veterans, from a health library and a telephone lifestyle-coaching program to an online health-risk assessment tool. These proactive approaches to optimizing the health of our veterans are foundational to the transformation of healthcare.
The Future of Healthcare: A Critical Moment in the History of Medicine
Twenty-first century healthcare focuses on the health and healing of veterans, the care they receive, their partnership with clinicians, and offering respect and commitment. It is delivered by a great team of people who place our veterans at the center of all that they do, who address the whole person and who are world-leading, cutting-edge, healthcare innovators. In fulfilling its responsibility to optimize the health and healing of each and every veteran, the VHA embraces the opportunity to transform the problem-based, disease-care system to patient-centered healthcare. This is an opportunity unparalleled in the history of medicine and a radical departure from our current approach. The need for transformation has never been greater. In this way, we will provide the future of healthcare to our veterans today.