On August 4, 2016, the Joint Commission on Care released to VA leadership the results of the Special Focused Surveys of the VA that it conducted from October 2014 to September 2015. These surveys were part of the Joint Commission on Care’s investigation of the VA Healthcare System. The unannounced surveys were conducted at 139 medical facilities and 47 community outpatient clinics in response to reports of improprieties in scheduling appointments and delays in receiving care as well as other quality of care issues. They were designed to measure progress made by the VA in improving access to care for veterans as well as identifying continuing problems that still exist in these areas.
The surveys covered processes related to timely access to care, patient flow, and coordination of care. They also looked at procedures that could possibly indicate delays in diagnostics and provision of care as well as infection control. In addition, these surveys covered the care environment as well as the culture of leadership in the facility.
The Commission has issued Requirements For Improvement (RFIs) based on the survey results. 64% of the organizations had at least 1 RFI while 36% had no RFIs or no non-compliance findings, meaning those organizations were in compliance with VA policies and Commission standards. The findings show that there have been improvements throughout the VA in the areas of leadership, access to care, culture of safety, and staff competency and credentialing.
The main recommendations from the Joint Commission include:
- Continue to monitor the timely scheduling of both new and follow-up appointments.
- Look at the challenges with the Choice Act and develop and implement a plan to address those issues.
- Develop a tracking process for out-of-network referrals.
- Encourage greater patient involvement in their care.
These survey results are just a small part of the Joint Commission on Care’s work and recommendations. It is encouraging to note that while problems definitely still exist, progress is being made in addressing and correcting those issues.
Check out our blog on the Commission on Care’s complete report on how to remedy the many issues within the VA health system.