Using an annual web-based report scorecard that measures, evaluates and benchmarks quality and efficiency at its medical centers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently released data that showed significant improvements at the majority of its health care facilities.
The Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS) Nashville facility and Alvin C. York facility in Murfreesboro were among those which made positive strides in the benchmarks and are striving for continued improvements. The TVHS Nashville facility showed what the scorecard categorized as meaningful absolute improvement over the last year while the Alvin C. York facility showed what the scorecard categorized as large absolute improvement.
"Our ongoing improvements result from more effective teamwork and listening closely to our Veterans," said TVHS Director, Jennifer Vedral-Baron. "We have undertaken several new initiatives to create a 'wow' experience for our Veterans and empowered staff to handle potential issues at the lowest levels. Our focus is on improving the whole health of our Veterans and on employee satisfaction which is leading to positive organizational changes," she said.
Compared with data from the same period a year ago, the July 2018 release of VA's Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL) report showed 103 (71 percent) VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) have improved in overall quality -- with the largest gains seen in areas where there were VA-wide improvement initiatives, such as mortality, length of stay and avoidable adverse events. Seven (5 percent) VAMCs had a small decrease in quality.
"This is a major step in the right direction to improving our quality of services for our Veterans," said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. "Over the past year, we were able to identify our problems and implement solutions to fixing the issues at 71 percent of our facilities. I'm extremely proud of our employees and the progress they have made to raise VA's performance for our nation's heroes."
Additionally, of the 15 medical centers placed under the Strategic Action for Transformation program (StAT), an initiative that monitors high-risk medical centers and mobilizes resources to assist the facilities, 33 percent (five medical centers) are no longer considered high-risk and 73 percent (11 medical centers) show meaningful improvements since being placed under StAT in January 2018.
The quarterly SAIL report, which has been released publicly since 2015, assesses 25 quality metrics and two efficiency and productivity metrics in areas such as death rate, complications and patient satisfaction, as well as overall efficiency and physician capacity at 146 VAMCs. It is used as an internal learning tool for VA leaders and personnel to pinpoint and study VAMCs with high quality and efficiency scores, both within specific measured areas and overall. The data is also used to identify best practices and develop strategies to help troubled facilities improve.
TVHS is an integrated tertiary health care system comprised of two hospitals, the Alvin C. York Campus in Murfreesboro and the Nashville Campus, as well as more than a dozen community-based outpatient clinics located in Tennessee and Kentucky. TVHS provides ambulatory care, primary care, and secondary care in acute medicine and surgery, specialized tertiary care, transplant services, spinal cord injury outpatient care, and a full range of extended care and mental health services.