Five Steps Toward Digital Transformation at the Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is keenly focused on improving the healthcare and general services that support our military veterans. Incumbent on these improvements is the integration of leading edge technologies that digitize and automate processes for efficiency along with important security enhancements.



ONE: Implementation of Electronic Health Records

The Department's efforts to modernize the way they store and access records for the nine million veterans they care for into a comprehensive electronic system has been well documented. These efforts involve upgrading all 1200+ VA facilities' existing systems to ensure better continuity of care, and are currently focused on moving EHR data to a cloud system that will be interoperable with the Military Health System. The ultimate goal is to ensure service members can seamlessly and digitally transition from DOD to VA health care, instead of needing to carry around stacks of paper forms as is current practice.

TWO: Improved Claims Processing

In addition to healthcare, the VA is also responsible for providing a variety of financial assistance to our veterans. Improving the speed and efficiency of the claims process has been a focus of several administrations. Current improvements include applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help automate manual processing tasks. The VA recently used robotic process automation to reduce the processing time for veterans' claims from 20 days to 30 minutes. The Department was also able to fully eliminate a mail-processing backlog, making it possible to reassign over 300 VA employees to more complex and meaningful claims-processing responsibilities.

THREE: Access to Real-Time Data

Many VA employees only have access to dashboards and reporting tools that rely on one-to-two day old data, putting veterans at risk. When health care reporting tools are not real-time, staff members must comb through patient charts in the medical records system, looking for new information and issues to ensure they have the most current information to make decisions about treatment or discharge. To better respond to COVID-19 cases, the VA began using new intelligent software that was rapidly updated to automate the tracking and monitoring of a large volume of inpatients and outpatients tested for COVID-19. This has aided in tracking patients with particular presenting symptoms and diagnostic test results. Clinicians are able to receive real-time alerts via email. This system provides the real-time visibility needed for power planning, care coordination, risk management and prioritization of interventions.

FOUR: Heightened Usage of Telehealth

Already an adopter of tele-health, the pandemic saw the VA's use of this technology surge from 40,000 visits a month to 40,000 tele-health visits a day. The VA is committed to maintaining this level of virtual availability of its doctors. Telehealth helps reach veterans in remote areas, eliminating the hurdles of distance and transportation for routine visits. It also increases the ability for doctors to monitor preventative care efforts, aiding in patient support.

FIVE: Enhanced Focus on the Workforce

While these improvements benefit Veterans, they also have a significant impact on the VA workforce. Eliminating manual tasks and streamlining processes allows employees to spend more time directly supporting Veterans. This improved employee satisfaction and engagement is a crucial focus of the VA.

The Department is not only aimed at retaining, but attracting talent that will continue to develop these advanced technology solutions. The VA's Talent, Education and Assessment Management System (TEAMS) is a whole-of-government, whole-career solution helping to find and evaluate AI talent and standardize training. As AI is not a degree that can be earned in the United States (yet), it is hard to identify who could be a good fit for AI positions. The system instead looks at experience from researchers, clinicians, and pharmacists, who can apply AI in meaningful ways with the proper training.

GovEvents has a number of opportunities to learn more about how the VA could approach these and other challenges:

  • Future of DevSecOps in the Department of Defense Virtual Summit (October 26, 2021; virtual) - A panel of DOD experts will discuss the importance of DevSecOps and what is in store for it in the future. Where do these panelists see the future of DevSecOps going throughout the DOD? What emerging technologies will help it get there?
  • FCW Workshop: Automation (October 26, 2021; virtual) - In just a few short years, Robotic Process Automation has gone from a few scattered pilot projects to an essential tool deployed by dozens of agencies. This workshop will explore the lessons learned in large-scale deployments, the challenges of automating across multiple systems, and the workloads that can benefit most from RPA.
  • Cloud Together Summit (November 9, 2021; virtual) - Join the top decision-makers from government and tech as they explore the evolution of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud models to support modern agency workloads, the evolution of end-user computing, and the push to become a more data-driven government.
  • FCW Workshop: Workforce (November 17, 2021; virtual) - Learn how government leaders plan to staff the new normal and attract needed specialists, while accommodating a remote workforce and securing the much enlarged attack surface.
  • Creating a Culture of Innovation in Healthcare Settings (white paper) - Published by the VA, this paper looks at how organizational culture plays a critical role in shaping healthcare delivery environments and service quality.
  • Digital Healthcare: Societal and Technology Trend Report (white paper) - An emphasis on the cycle of prevention, diagnosis, early treatment and recovery, current and projected developments in technology and digitization of data are making ongoing preventive care available to individuals throughout the world. Digital healthcare carries great promise for helping people skillfully manage their conditions, coordinate their care, and partner with their clinicians for a lifetime of better physical and mental health.

Visit GovEvents for a complete listing of conferences, virtual events, and webinars. Browse GovWhitePapers for 1000+ white papers, case studies, and infographics that detail the latest on technology and policy impacting VA's continuing modernization.

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