Restoring trust at the VA

In the wake of revelations about veterans’ long wait times for hospital and clinic medical appointments, compounded by a cover-up, the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system should rethink aspects of its management and sharpen its focus on providing quality, timely care, according to a June 5, 2014 opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) co-authored by Ashish Jha of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Jha, professor of health policy and management at HSPH and a staff physician at the Boston VA Healthcare System, and co-author Kenneth Kizer, former Under Secretary for Health in the Department of Veterans Affairs, suggested several fixes for the VA system. They said the VA should simplify the way it measures performance; decentralize management; use the latest technology to improve care delivery and quality; and step up engagement with private-sector health care by publicly reporting performance data and partnering with other organizations to boost patient safety.

“VA health care is at a crossroads,” they wrote. “The agency continues to employ an army of highly dedicated clinicians and administrators who are deeply committed to providing high-quality care to veterans. New leadership should help them succeed.”

Read the NEJM opinion piece: Restoring trust in VA healthcare