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VA Working to Revitalize its Health Care Processes

Joshua Hoffman
September 11, 2015

The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs faces monumental operational challenges as it works to provide ongoing care for millions of veterans. Supporting veterans' benefits is a priority for the VA, but achieving operational excellence is easier said than done. A whistleblower claimed that the VA was working on official medical requests for approximately 200,000 deceased veterans (or beneficiaries), and the VA inspector general used this information as a launching point for procedural overhaul, the Associated Press reported.

Many of the issues facing the VA are understandable considering the complexity of the agency's operations. They are also the types of procedural challenges that a good business process management software solution can help health care organizations avoid.

Looking at the VA's problem

A study led byLinda Halliday, acting inspector general for the VA, found that the agency currently has approximately 900,000 open, official requests for care that need to be addressed, the AP explained. Of that number, one-third are believed to most likely be from people who are now deceased. This is not necessarily a decree of negligence on the part of the VA - it is nearly impossible to tell if any of the care requests from those who are now deceased had anything to do with the causes of death for those individuals. More than half of the applications didn't have dates, and investigators could not reliably determine how many of them pertain to actual enrollment applications.

Process optimization can ensure health care organizations handle patient information effectively.

On top of all this, it is possible that VA employees may have incorrectly labeled thousands of health care applications as completed and deleted more than 10,000 electronic transactions through the course of five years. Halliday told the AP that this information highlights a need for procedural upgrades at the VA. She also explained that she is recommending a multi-year plan to resolve these issues and bring the VA forward.

BPM can resolve operational challenges

Health care organizations, whether they are major public entities like the VA, hospital networks or insurers, face an overwhelming clerical burden. Keeping track of patient details in compliance with regulatory standards can prove an operational nightmare, and having information slip through the cracks is not uncommon.

BPM tools empower organizations to streamline data and process interactions between user groups, even across operational boundaries. In health care, this ensures that patient requests, medical information, billing data and insurance details get to the relevant parties in the most efficient way possible. Process automation and standardization can create the operational framework health care companies need to ensure procedural precision.