The VA has been at the forefront of innovation in integrated care delivery. ViSTA is the VA’s award winning IT system. The VA has been aggresive in making sure veterans use generic drugs when these are available. Even if the VA provides high quality care, veterans are having increasing problems accessing this care.
The issue came to a head in 2014 during the Arizona VA scandal where VA officials used unofficial waiting lists to hide the facility’s long wait times. Some recent comments from VA Secretary Robert McDonald have demonstrated that the VA may not be focused on improving patient access. The N.Y. Times reports:
“The days to an appointment is really not what we should be measuring,” Mr. McDonald responded. “What we should be measuring is the veteran’s satisfaction. What really counts is how does the veteran feel about their encounter with the V.A.? When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? What is important is, what is your satisfaction with the experience.”
He continued: “What I would like to move to actually is that kind of measure. We are in the process of creating that kind of measure, validating that kind of measure.”
Patient satisfaction is important. However, improving patient satisfaction for those veterans lucky enough to receive treated without focusing on those who are denied care is not only insensitive, but poor management.
John McCain’s response is the appropriate one calling these comments as “outrageous and completely inappropriate.”
Anthony Principi–a former VA Secretary–offers his thoughts on how to improve the VA.