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Northern Virginia Technology Council Delivers Pro Bono Assessment of Scheduling Processes and Systems at VA Medical Centers

Report Recommends Solutions Related to Processes, Technology, People and Performance Measures Surrounding Patient Scheduling

HERNDON, Va. – October 30, 2014 – The Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) announced today that it had delivered a final report to Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert McDonald based on its pro bono assessment of the scheduling processes and systems at VA medical centers. The report, which combines a thorough review of best practices with on-site observations of VA medical center operations, makes recommendations to improve VA's scheduling processes, technologies, people and performance measures.

NVTC's assessment was conducted at the request of Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), who sought a remedy to the IT and workflow challenges at the VA. In addition, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in August, included a requirement for the VA to use a technology task force to conduct a review of the needs of the Department of Veterans Affairs with respect to its scheduling system. Today's announcement was made during a conference call conducted by Senator Warner and NVTC President & CEO Bobbie Kilberg.

Over a six-week period, the NVTC team conducted site visits at VA Medical Centers in Richmond and Hampton, Virginia in order to observe scheduling operations and interview VA staff about the issues and challenges they encounter on the job and their ideas on how Veterans might be better served by making changes to current scheduling processes, procedures and practices. The team also examined a library of scheduling related information provided by the VA to gather additional insight.

Eleven specific recommendations for the VA are outlined in the NVTC Assessment Report as follows:

1. Aggressively redesign the human resources and recruitment process.
2. Prioritize efforts to recruit, retain, and train clerical staff.
3. Develop a comprehensive human capital strategy that addresses impending healthcare provider shortages based on projected needs.
4. Create a stronger financial incentive structure.
5. Accelerate steps to improve the agility, usability and flexibility of scheduling-enabling technologies that also facilitate performance measurement and reporting functions.
6. Take aggressive steps to use fixed infrastructure more efficiently.
7. Evaluate the efficiency and patient support gained by centralizing the phone calling functions in facility-based call centers with extended hours of operation.
8. Invest in more current and usable telephone systems and provide adequate space for call center functions.
9. Take aggressive measures to alleviate parking congestion, which impacts timeliness of care.
10. Engage frontline staff in the process of change.
11. Embrace a system-wide approach to process redesign.

The assessment was led by a Core Team of NVTC member companies – Booz Allen Hamilton, HP, IBM, The MITRE Corporation, and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) – with assistance from three additional member companies: MAXIMUS, Providge Consulting and Qlarion.

"We thank the team of NVTC companies for their exceptional commitment of time, talent and hard work on this important endeavor," said NVTC President & CEO Bobbie Kilberg. "Our hope is that the assessment and recommendations in this report will be helpful in addressing the VA's scheduling challenges and that the VA will be able to utilize them immediately to begin making the improvements necessary to restore confidence in the services it provides our nation's veterans."

"I want to thank Bobbie Kilberg and the Northern Virginia Technology Council for their willingness and commitment to helping our veterans get the care they deserve in a timely manner. I was appalled to learn that some of our veterans have waited months to see a doctor, all because of outdated and inefficient scheduling systems at the VA. I'm confident that NVTC's expert IT recommendations will help the VA tackle these scheduling challenges and allow them to adequately address the health care needs of our veterans," Senator Mark Warner said.

The NVTC effort builds upon a template established in 2010-11, when NVTC, at the request of Sen. Warner, partnered with the U.S. Army to help address the serious technology and business process problems at Arlington National Cemetery. An NVTC team, led by Booz Allen Hamilton, the MITRE Corporation and SAIC, worked with Cemetery officials to produce a comprehensive report, which combined a thorough review of best practices with on-site observations of cemetery operations and processes to make recommendations to address immediate challenges, optimize operations and facilitate long-term excellence at Arlington National Cemetery. Army and Cemetery leadership implemented many of the recommendations in NVTC's report to optimize Cemetery operations and plan future improvements.

For a copy of the Executive Summary of the report, click here or visit the VA's website to view the full report. Contact Allison Gilmore, NVTC vice president of communications and strategic initiatives, for more information.

Following are recent press clips that feature NVTC's VA report:
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The Virginian-Pilot
Daily Press

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