WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun an independent, nationwide review of all scheduling practices at VA medical facilities, according to new VA Secretary Bob McDonald.
During a visit to the Phoenix clinic where reports of bad scheduling practices first surfaced, McDonald also announced a series of additional actions to improve veterans’ access to timely, quality health care following a series of meetings with veterans and employees, according to a VA news release.
It was McDonald’s first trip as secretary.
“VA is committed to instilling integrity into our scheduling practices to deliver the timely care that veterans deserve,” McDonald was quoted as saying in the news release. “It is important that our scheduling practices be reviewed by a respected, independent source to help restore trust in our system, and I’m grateful to the Joint Commission for taking on this critical task.”
McDonald announced that every VA medical center will undergo an independent review of scheduling and access practices beginning in the fall. A nonprofit organization, the Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.
McDonald also outlined actions VA will take in the coming weeks and months to accelerate access to care, according to the news release. Among them:
- VA will conduct a holistic review that results in actionable initiatives to ensure a strong ethical environment across our health care system.
- All medical center directors will be required to notify the undersecretary for health if access or quality-of-care standards are not being met.
- VA will review senior leader performance plans in the Veterans Health Administration to better align with VA’s strategic plan and the outcomes that matter most – satisfied veterans.
- VA will review employee performance goals to ensure they are focused on providing timely quality care.
- Require medical center directors to ensure that all VA staff with scheduling privileges complete the mandatory scheduler training in compliance with VA’s scheduling directive, as they are doing in Phoenix.
On August 5, McDonald directed all VA health care and benefits facilities to hold town-hall events by the end of September to improve communication with, and hear directly from, veterans nationwide.