I believe the disturbing revelations of dysfunction in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system can be an opportunity to transform that system into one that truly serves veterans, if we follow some simple recommendations:
(1) Most VA health care employees are hard-working and dedicated, but employees must remember that they work for veterans as opposed to working for the VA.
(2) We must work to standardize practices at VA health care facilities to ensure high quality care for all.
(3) We should measure success by good health outcomes, not by checking off boxes that certain procedures have been followed.
(4) The VA must be more proactive about scheduling patients. Patients can be called, texted, e-mailed, given directions and offered help to come in. These steps will help make sure VA physicians see as many patients as they can.
(5) The VA should initiate pre- and post-visit phone calls to make sure veterans are prepared for their visits and understand their treatments.
(6) The VA must work harder to facilitate the secure transfer of patient records between the VA and private providers.
(7) Veteran patients should be empowered to suggest improvements that have actual effects on the quality of VA health care.
This op-ed originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 7, 2013