We know the Veterans Affairs Heath Care system broke down and went astray causing waiting lists lasting for years and even deaths. The reasons are still being studied and investigated but we know that the core of the crisis was due to subverting the electronic record management (EMR) system and keeping dual waiting lists to hide poor appointment making numbers from officials. The process went something like this. When a patient attempted to make an appointment, staff members would enter information into the computer and do a screen capture and a hard copy printout which was later placed onto a secret electronic waiting list with the paper. And, while the VA rules require that patients be seen within thirty days of requesting an appointment-that didn’t happen. After many months of revelations, short-term remedies have included appointment of a new VA Director and, now, even help from the American Legion.
The reasons for this shockingly unethical and inefficient system, in an age of speed and accountability through advanced technology, are still being studied and reviewed but for the rest of us–there are lessons to be learned for every physician practice to help improve operations and patient care.