Top Issues Facing the VA in 2019
For the past two years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has experienced many transitions and reforms. From new VA Sectretaries to landmark legislation seeking to overhaul practices and procedures, the past two years have been anything but business as usual at the VA. As we head further into 2019, here are some of the issues that will be at the forefront for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Mission Act implementation
The Mission Act, passed in 2018, has called on the VA to restructure its outside healthcare programs. The goal of the Mission Act, according to advocates, is to expand outside healthcare partnerships so veterans have greater access to quality and timely care. However, the new law has been met with controversy since it was passed, with opponents calling it an effort to “privatize” the VA and arguing that it will drain resources from the department. For his part, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has repeatedly stated that he opposes privatization of the VA and that the Mission Act does not mean privatization. The reforms outlined in the Mission Act will continue to be the top issue facing the VA in 2019.
Electronic Health Records
Another major issue the VA will be tackling in 2019 is the modernization of patient health records. For decades, the VA has used a legacy records system that has made it challenging to share patient medical records between the department and healthcare providers. That is soon to change after the VA signed a contract with Cerner Corp. to completely overhaul their health records system.
“The EHR will give health care providers a full picture of patient medical history, driving better clinical outcomes,” Secretary Wilkie said. “It will also help us identify Veterans proactively who are at higher risk for issues, such as opioid addiction and suicide, so health care providers can intervene earlier and save lives.”
Improved Customer Service
Secretary Wilkie has stated repeatedly that his top priority as VA Secretary is to improve customer service across the department. In a statement to Congress, Wilkie said, “Our goal is to make accessing VA services seamless, effective, efficient, and emotionally resonant,” said Wilkie. “The delivery of excellent CX is my responsibility and the responsibility of all VA employees.”
After years of scandal and stories of long wait times, the department must continue to push forward in 2019 to improve quality and timely access to care for veterans. For the department responsible for serving those who have served our nation, there can be no higher priority than making sure our veterans receive the highest quality of care we as a nation can provide.