Warner, VA Secretary McDonald thank technology leaders for rfforts to fix VA healthcare system
Today at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was joined by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) Secretary Robert McDonald to thank the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) for donating their time and expertise to improve the V-A’s health care system following a nationwide crisis of veterans’ access to medical care.
At the request of Sen. Warner, the NVTC assessed the scheduling and workflow challenges at V-A facilities and recommended practical solutions focusing on people, processes, technology, and performance. Today, Sen. Warner congratulated the NVTC member companies and leadership team and the V-A for taking major steps towards ensuring veterans have access to the medical care they deserve.
“I want to thank the Northern Virginia Technology Council for offering their expertise to the V-A. I also want to thank V-A leadership for welcoming this excellent team and working with them to make these recommendations a reality,” Sen. Warner said. “This was a great collaboration between the private sector and the Department of Veterans Affairs that didn’t cost taxpayers a dime.”
“We couldn’t be more thrilled. I also want to thank our V-A colleagues who demonstrated that open mind and that wiliness to learn to change. It’s great to see all of you here today celebrating this, which I hope will be the first of many times that we celebrate public private partnerships in order to help V-A better serve veterans,” Secretary McDonald said at the event. “We want to be very thankful of all the companies in the room for your time and generosity… It was all pro bono work. Your ideas, your innovation, all of that has been a great help to us, but it also has been an inspiration for what we can achieve when we are willing to partner with the private sector.”
“The Northern Virginia Technology Council is made up of the country’s most well respected and innovative technology companies, and we have a very long and proud association with military veterans. When Senator Warner called and asked us to help with Veteran’s [Affairs], we were very honored to offer our assistance,” said NVTC President Bobbie Kilberg today. “We joined on a pro bono basis to fix the business processes, the culture and the I-T challenges, because it was the right thing to do.”
In 2014, in response to reports of unacceptable wait times and systemic challenges facing military veterans seeking care, Congress passed comprehensive overhaul legislation to ensure timely access to necessary healthcare services. The bipartisan legislation, which was signed into law by the President on August 7, 2014, included Sen. Warner’s initiative to enlist the I-T expertise of the Northern Virginia Technology Council member companies to assess and recommend fixes for the V-A’s broken scheduling system.
The NVTC team conducted a six-week assessment, including two onsite visits to the Richmond and Hampton V-A Medical Centers. On October 29, 2014, NVTC announced specific recommendations to improve VA’s scheduling processes, technologies, people and performance measures. The assessment was led by a Core Team of NVTC member companies – Booz Allen Hamilton, HP, IBM, The MITRE Corporation, and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) – with assistance from three additional member companies: MAXIMUS, Providge Consulting and Qlarion.
Today, Secretary McDonald announced that the V-A has fully implemented 26 of the NVTC recommendations, and is committed to making all of the improvements recommended by the NVTC.
Some key NVTC recommendations:
- Aggressively redesign the human resources and recruitment process
- Prioritize efforts to recruit, retain, and train clerical and support staff
- Develop a comprehensive human capital strategy that addresses impending healthcare provider shortages
- Create a stronger financial incentive structure
- Accelerate steps to improve the agility, usability, and flexibility of scheduling-enabling technologies that also facilitate performance measurement and reporting functions
- Use fixed infrastructure more efficiently
- Evaluate the efficiency and patient support gained by centralizing the phone calling functions in facility-based call centers with extended hours of operation
- Invest in more current and usable telephone systems and provide adequate space for call center functions
- Take aggressive measures to alleviate parking congestion, which can impact on the timeliness of care
- Engage frontline staff in the process of change
The partnership between the V-A and NVTC builds upon a template established in 2011, when Sen. Warner and NVTC partnered with the U.S. Army to help design and implement a technology fix for Arlington National Cemetery after reports that the remains of warfighters had been misidentified and misplaced by Cemetery officials. An NVTC team worked with Cemetery officials to produce a comprehensive blueprint to correct and modernize the cemetery’s I-T and business practices.
The Northern Virginia Technology Council is the largest membership and trade association in the nation, serving about 1,000 companies and organizations in Northern Virginia, including businesses from all sectors of the technology industry, service providers, universities, and others.