Feb 8, 2016
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides timely and high-quality care to most of its patients, but there are inconsistencies in performance across VA facilities and barriers to effective use of VA resources and capabilities. VA will require more capacity to meet an increase in patient demand in the next five years. Options for increasing capacity include accelerated hiring, full nurse practice authority, and expanded use of telehealth.
The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 addressed the need for access to timely, high-quality health care for veterans. Section 201 of the legislation called for an independent assessment of various aspects of veterans' health care. The RAND Corporation was tasked with an assessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA's) current and projected health care capabilities and resources. An examination of data from a variety of sources, along with a survey of VA medical facility leaders, revealed the breadth and depth of VA resources and capabilities: fiscal resources, workforce and human resources, physical infrastructure, interorganizational relationships, and information resources. The assessment identified barriers to the effective use of these resources and capabilities. Analysis of data on access to VA care and the quality of that care showed that almost all veterans live within 40 miles of a VA health facility, but fewer have access to VA specialty care. Veterans usually receive care within 14 days of their desired appointment date, but wait times vary considerably across VA facilities. VA has long played a national leadership role in measuring the quality of health care. The assessment showed that VA health care quality was as good or better on most measures compared with other health systems, but quality performance lagged at some VA facilities. VA will require more resources and capabilities to meet a projected increase in veterans' demand for VA care over the next five years. Options for increasing capacity include accelerated hiring, full nurse practice authority, and expanded use of telehealth.
Overview of Methods
Assessment of VA Resources and Capabilities
Assessment of Access to VA Care
Assessment of Quality of VA Care
Improving Access for Veterans
Conclusions and Recommendations