Four medical care innovations for veterans
By Lia Collen
Employees across the federal government dedicate their careers to helping veterans. Today, we highlight examples of federal employees who are transforming medical care for our veterans.
Using text messages to improve care
In 2015, participants of the Partnership’s Excellence in Government Fellows launched a pilot program at three Veterans Affairs medical centers to address the 35,000 missed appointments the centers experienced per month. The team helped implement technology that sent patients text message reminders for their appointments, enabling them to respond immediately to cancel or confirm.
In one year, the group’s project reduced missed appointments by 11%, according to the three medical centers. This success led the VA to expand the program nationwide, resulting in fewer missed appointments and more efficient medical care for veterans.
Transforming care in Wisconsin
The Tomah VA Medical Center in Wisconsin was one of the worst ranking hospitals in the VA system before Victoria Brahm, this year’s Service to America Medals—or Sammies—federal employee of the year, joined as acting director in 2015.
In the four years since Brahm has been in charge, she has repaired and bolstered staff spirit, put in place a state-of-the-art pain program and partnered with providers throughout the region to enhance the quality and range of care for veterans. The medical center now ranks in the top 10% of VA hospitals for avoiding preventable in-hospital complications, according to the VA’s annual medical center rankings.
Improving access to mental health services
Every year, nearly 100,000 veterans apply for federal benefits. In the past, these claims required an average of two months to verify. Paul Shute, Christopher Aragao and David Enright, 2019 Sammies honorees in management excellence, created a database that cut that time to just six minutes.
Revolutionizing our understanding of concussions
Ann McKee, 2019 Sammies award winner in career achievement, revolutionized scientific research and our understanding of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. She raised public awareness around CTE and brain injury and, as a result, the military has adopted better procedures for screening veterans for head trauma and its chronic effects.
The Partnership thanks all of our veterans for their service as well as the many federal employees who work every day to improve the quality of life for veterans.