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A survey of 25 Veterans Affairs Department medical centers by the American Legion finds the quality of health care to be "excellent" but adds that VA's Washington offices could make changes to improve performance.
In the http://www.legion.org/documents/legion/pdf/swsreport2012.pdf">2012 System Worth Saving Task Force Report published Tuesday, the Legion's survey team said VA's aggressive quality-of-care initiatives in the past decade have resulted in "drastic improvements" in patient satisfaction.
But efforts to improve the system could fail unless VA overhauls its hiring process and appointment system, the task force recommends.
VA should create an executive task force to address system-wide staffing shortages and decentralize its scheduling and appointment system, the report states.
"If VA is truly moving toward a patient-centered model of care, it needs to move away from automation and toward a more personalized approach," said Jacob Gadd, the Legion's deputy director of health.
The report noted that although VA has made great strides in providing women's health services, gaps exist in routine care such as mammography, prenatal and gynecological care.
"In some instances, clinics have [outsourced] these services that have created additional costs in the medical center's annual budget," the report noted.
The American Legion will present the report's findings and its other legislative priorities to the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs committees in a joint hearing Wednesday.