Using an annual web-based report scorecard that measures, evaluates and benchmarks quality and efficiency at its medical centers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently released data that showed significant improvements at the majority of its health care facilities.
The VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System was one of 37 Department of Veterans Affairs health care facilities nationwide that showed a large improvement in the overall quality of services provided to Veterans between July 2017 and July 2018.
“We saw improvements in several areas and continue to lead the nation in others,” said Peggy Kearns, VASNHS director. “Locally, we have made tremendous strides to improve the patient experience, achieve efficiencies and improve access to care. I’m very proud of our staff’s work in improving the delivery of the quality care and services they have always provided, and will continue to provide going forward.”
Compared with data from the same period a year ago, the July 2018 release of VA’s Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL) report showed 103 (71 percent) VA Medical Centers have improved in overall quality — with the largest gains seen in areas where there were VA-wide improvement initiatives, such as mortality, length of stay and avoidable adverse events. Seven (5 percent) VAMCs had a small decrease in quality.
“This is a major step in the right direction to improving our quality of services for our Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Over the past year, we were able to identify our problems and implement solutions to fixing the issues at 71 percent of our facilities. I’m extremely proud of our employees and the progress they have made to raise VA’s performance for our nation’s heroes.”
Additionally, of the 15 medical centers placed under the Strategic Action for Transformation program, an initiative that monitors high-risk medical centers and mobilizes resources to assist the facilities, 33 percent (five medical centers) are no longer considered high-risk and 73 percent (11 medical centers) show meaningful improvements since being placed under StAT in January 2018.
The quarterly SAIL report, which has been released publicly since 2015, assesses 25 quality metrics and two efficiency and productivity metrics in areas such as death rate, complications and patient satisfaction, as well as overall efficiency and physician capacity at 146 VAMCs. It is used as an internal learning tool for VA leaders and personnel to pinpoint and study VAMCs with high quality and efficiency scores, both within specific measured areas and overall. The data is also used to identify best practices and develop strategies to help troubled facilities improve.
“Our focus at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System is ensuring our Veterans receive outstanding care — not chasing metrics,” Kearns concluded. “Monitoring SAIL data and making adjustments as necessary is just one of the many ways we ensure we our meeting this commitment to our nation’s heroes.”