Beyond its important mission of "caring for those who have served in our nation's military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors," the work of today's U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is guided by a strategic plan that lays out agency goals to be achieved through 2028. The projects the VA initiates over the coming years will support the following goals:
- Consistently communicate with customers and partners to assess and maximize performance, evaluate needs, and build long-term relationships and trust
- Deliver timely, accessible, and high-quality benefits, care, and services
- Build and maintain trust through proven stewardship, transparency, and accountability
- Strive toward excellence in all business operations--including governance, systems, data, and management
Several recent programs illustrate the commitment that the VA has to meeting and exceeding these goals by 2028 and beyond.
The VA has been continually updating its call center support to streamline and consolidate the point of contact for veterans, making it easier for them to access services. At one point, the department had over 1,000 toll-free numbers that veterans had to navigate to find the support they needed. Today, phone support is provided via a single number, 1-800-MyVA411, and the focus has shifted to a similar streamlining of improving online access to support. AskVA and VA Chatbot were launched in 2022 to provide access to information and support. Moving forward, the department is focused on continually modernizing all online services to meet the needs and expectations of the digital-first generations (Gen Z and Gen Alpha) that the VA is now beginning to support.
Care and Benefits Delivery
The VA announced a data-sharing pledge with 13 healthcare systems across the country. The pledge will help facilitate a smooth exchange of information and save veterans money by coordinating benefits between the VA and the facility. This coordination will allow veterans to seek care in their own communities as opposed to traveling to a VA facility that may be a great distance. They will be able to receive care using their VA benefits in these facilities, improving care access while also maximizing the use of VA benefits.
A focus on human-centered design, rather than designing service around policies and internal procedures, has paid off in terms of improved efficiency and trust for the VA. In 2016, the VA measured trust at just 55 percent. After improving the way services were delivered with a human-centered approach, the VA has seen its trust rating climb to 77 percent.
Improving Business Operations
The VA has established four new artificial intelligence (AI) centers to diversify the research and development of AI solutions to support care and business operations. Centers located in Washington, DC; Long Beach, CA; Kansas City, MO; and Tampa, FL, will develop pilots and scale up new projects developed elsewhere in the VA network. A particular focus across these centers will be AI's ability to mimic a human and use patterns in data to improve insight and care.
Based on these successes, companies looking to support the VA should focus on their ability to support the human-centered design of solutions that empower better interoperability across internal and external organizations. For more details on VA plans and the technology supporting those plans, check out these resources on GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.
- 2023 Healthcare Summit (December 6, 2023; Falls Church, VA) - Hear from the country's top healthcare professionals, leaders, and decision-makers from the public and private sectors and discover what's on the horizon for healthcare innovation as the landscape continues to change.
- Data in Action Summit (December 6, 2023; Reston, VA) - Join the conversation with public sector experts on how they're using data to deliver transformative analysis, security, and CX solutions across their agencies.
- Health IT Summit 2023 (January 30-31, 2024; Bethesda, MD) - Transforming the existing healthcare system to a more citizen-centric, prevention-focused entity is a daunting task. It requires a sustained effort by government agencies, private partners, and academia. Key to that success will be making the right data available and ubiquitous to the right people at the right time for the best outcomes.
- HIMSS24 Global Health Conference & Exhibition (March 11-15, 2024; Orlando, FL) - Professionals from around the global health landscape come together to forge meaningful connections amidst a backdrop of valuable sessions and vibrant networking. Glean insights from world-renowned experts and dive into the hottest topics in healthcare delivery.
- VA Health Care: Improved Data, Planning, and Communication Needed for Infrastructure Modernization and Realignment (white paper) - The Government Accountability Office analyzed VA's recommendations for modernizing and realigning its infrastructure and reviewed supporting data and documentation.
- Exploring Congress' Framework for the Future (white paper) - As a foundational enabling technology, AI can be adapted for nearly any use to solve a myriad of problems. The challenge is to weigh the trade-offs inherent with any powerful technology and modify or create the legal frameworks needed to maximize technologies' benefits while minimizing risks.