Menu
US Veteran Affairs overhaul includes IT assessment

US Veteran Affairs overhaul includes IT assessment

A senator pushes for a provision that would require the agency to seek private IT advice on its scheduling system

U.S. President Barack Obama has signed legislation focused on overhauling the Department of Veteran Affairs' troubled health-care system, including an IT review of the VA's process of scheduling patients.

The US$16 billion overhaul of the VA health-care system, signed by Obama Thursday, is designed to eliminate long waiting periods for military veterans to get health services at some VA medical centers. In some cases, veterans waiting for doctor's appointments died, according to reports.

Part of the legislation allows for the agency to enlist pro bono assistance of private-sector IT experts to help fix what critics have called a "broken" scheduling system at the VA.

Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who pushed for the IT provisions, praised the legislation. He called it a "huge win" for veterans.

"I'm very, very pleased this law includes my provision to bring in a team of the best and brightest IT experts to work with the VA to more quickly and efficiently provide our veterans with the care and services they have earned," he said in a statement. "Even better, this won't cost tax payers a dime."

A May report from the VA's Office of Inspector General found an antiquated process of scheduling health-care appointments at VA facilities in Phoenix, where reports of significant waiting times first surfaced.

From February 2013 until March, veterans who called the help line to enroll in the Phoenix health-care system and get an initial primary-care appointment first had their information collected by a help-line staff member. The help-line worker would collect the patient information on a computerized system, then print out a screen shot.

The screen shots would then go to other workers to enter the information into the VA's separate electronic wait list, according to the report. The process of printing out the veterans' health-care information and re-entering it into a new system resulted in frequent "delays and backlogs," with patients told the process would take three to five months, the IG's report said.

Warner and the Northern Virginia Technology Council, a trade group of Virginia IT vendors, had worked with the VA and the White House for several weeks to design a "workable plan" for private IT consulting help for the agency, Warner said in a statement.

Warner's provision requires the VA's secretary to enlist a task force of technology companies to review "the needs of the department with respect to the scheduling system and scheduling software," and to report within 45 days with specific actions to improve scheduling and software. The provision requires the VA secretary to implement these recommendations within one year of receiving the pro bono assessment.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. Department of Veteran AffairsGovernment use of ITNorthern Virginia Technology CouncilMark WarnergovernmentBarack Obama

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments