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.

Subscribe here for up-to-date channel news

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

Featured

Slideshows

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards

Revealed at a glitzy bash in Sydney at the Ivy Penthouse, the first StorageCraft Partner Awards locally saw the vendor honour its top-performing partners with ASI Solutions, SMBiT Pro, Webroot, ACA Pacific and Soft Solutions New Zealand taking home the top awards. Photos by Maria Stefina.

StorageCraft celebrates high achievers at its inaugural A/NZ Partner Awards
Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip

Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip

​Synnex and Lenovo hosted 18 resellers for an action-packed weekend adventure in RotoVegas, taking in white water rafting on the Kaituna River, as well as quad biking and dinner at Stratosfare​, overlooking Lake Rotorua at the top of Mount Ngongotaha​. Photos by Synnex.

Kiwi resellers make a splash on Synnex and Lenovo RotoVegas road trip
Show Comments