The Veterans Affairs Department has not fixed problems with scheduling follow-up medical exams for temporarily disabled veterans, costing the department millions of dollars each year, witnesses told the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. The department risks overpaying some veterans by $1.1 billion for the period of 2011 to 2016.
Problems with the Veterans Benefits Management System are hindering Veterans Affairs Department efforts to eliminate its backlog of disability claims and to increase the accuracy rate of claims processing to 98 percent by 2015, says a Feb. 4 VA inspector audit report (.pdf).
In a Feb. 5 joint press conference with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said the two departments will choose a "core set of iEHR capabilities no later than March of 2013" and will agree on a set of standardized healthcare data no later than this December. "Rather than building a single integrated system from scratch, we will focus our immediate efforts on integrating VA and DoD health data as quickly as possible, by focusing on interoperability and using existing solutions," Panetta said.
The rate of department-issued smartphones and tablets within Veterans Affairs is slower than initially expected, acknowledged VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker during a Jan. 30 call with reporters . There remain within the department about 40,000 officially issued cell phones and approximately 20,000 BlackBerrys.
Robert Petzel, the under secretary for health at the VA, says (.pdf) the agency has developed a taskforce that will provide recommendations for innovating mental health care services and training in suicide prevention techniques. The taskforce will provide Petzel with "a full report with identification strategies and patient-centered focused health care options" by March 1.
The secretaries of the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments will meet Feb. 5 to likely approve a software development approach permitting the accelerated rollout of a joint electronic health record, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker told reporters Wednesday.
Veteran Affairs Department Chief Information Officer Roger Baker spoke with reporters Jan. 30 about the department's data breach reports from September (.pdf), October (.pdf), November (.pdf) and December (.pdf). Click on the media player to listen to the call in full (approx. 1 hour).
Veterans will now have better access to their personal health information thanks to a new, enhanced version of the Veterans Affairs Department's Blue Button downloadable electronic health record that now includes several new categories of information, according to a VA announcement .
Federal agencies could see financial benefits through the use of enhanced use leases, but only if they adequately account for all costs and benefits of the leases, says the Government Accountability Office. It notes that some EULs do very well, such as a State Department lease in Istanbul for $20.6 million and a NASA EUL worth $147.7 million, but says most have modest gains "where the costs could more easily outweigh the benefits."
The iPads will have apps that allow caregivers to communicate securely with primary caregivers, Evans said, and will give them access to personal health data. PTSD Coach, the VA-developed app that provides post-traumatic stress disorder screening and symptoms tracking, will connect on the backend to primary caregivers when loaded on the pilot iPads, Evans said. Should a vet show "high symptoms of PTSD, their provider can be notified of that fact," he said.