Thursday, December 13, 2007

Best Health Care in The USA? Surprise! It's the VA!

The Veterans Administration, an organization that has been castigated for years on the subject of its low quality care, has made a turnaround. Be prepared, this story is replete with words and phrases that have gained a massive political charge in recent months, chief amongst them "socialized medicine."

ABC News brings us a thought provoking report (video here | text here ) on how the VA has moved from one of the worst health care programs in the country to being the best in the nation. I can sum it up in one phrase for you, electronic medical records. If you have the bandwidth I highly advise checking out the video linked above, if a picture is worth a thousand words then hundreds of them strung together as video should be worth millions.

Here are a few quick nuggets of data drawn from the text version online at the ABC News website:

Experts generally agree that electronic records are absolutely essential to significant health care reform. However, only about 5 percent of the nation's hospitals now have them.

[...] in most private hospitals 20 percent of lab tests are repeated simply because doctors can't find a patient's results.

But in the VA system, every patient's records are as close as a computer. It saves millions of dollars.

[...]Study after study puts the VA system at the very top for fewer medical errors, for effective treatments, for lower costs and for patient satisfaction. And the VA delivers all of this for at least $1,500 less per year per patient than Medicare.
Our own Mr. Halvorson is one of the experts who see electronic medial records (EMRs) as an essential part of the reform equation. The fact that the VA, has been implementing EMRs with such positive results supports the veracity of those claims. Granted, the VA system could not be implemented "as is" on a national basis, but the fundamental concept has now been proven to be sound. If a system of EMRs that follow each patient for their lifetime, as VA records do, is implemented nationwide, a significant potion of our current health care crisis can be averted.

SOURCE: "Veterans Affairs Healthcare System No. 1: How the Once-Maligned VA Healthcare System Becomes Best in Nation.
" 12/12/07

photo courtesy of scladesma, used under this Creative Commons license

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