Health Services Research & Development

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VA Priorities and VHA Strategic Plans

2019 VA Priorities

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is undergoing a major reorganization to transform the way it provides services for its Veterans nationally. This transformation has already involved new legislation such as the VA Maintaining Systems & Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION Act). The MISSION Act focuses on community care program implementation, including the coordination of VA and non-VA care, virtual care (e.g., telemedicine), use of value-based payment models, enhancing access to and quality of care in VA medical service lines, and improving access to and quality of care in medically underserved areas. With the implementation of the MISSION Act, Veterans are being given more options for where to receive care, and more care is being delivered in the community outside the VA Healthcare System. Overall the MISSION Act involves a dramatic shift in the delivery of VA health care services and evolution of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)'s role as a payer in addition to provider of health care for millions of Veterans nationwide. This follows a period of other major national initiatives within VHA, including the national deployment of patient-centered medical homes, implementation of new telehealth and connected health programs, promotion of patient-centered care, and adoption of several specialty-care transformational initiatives, among others.

Updated VA priorities and modernization efforts (see Table below) bring forth additional opportunities for researchers to facilitate VA's further transformation into a Learning Healthcare System. Specifically, the Learning Healthcare System as described by the National Academy of Medicine involves the alignment of science with clinical priority goals to conduct more rapid and efficient studies that leverage existing data to deploy and evaluate innovations and spread of effective practices. VA has a unique opportunity to take the concept of the Learning Healthcare System to the next level through rigorous, time-sensitive studies that evaluate the effectiveness and/or implementation of new national programs or policies that address VA leadership priorities. In concert with its strive towards a Learning Health Care System, VA is also focused on becoming a High-reliability Health Care System, particularly in response to recent reports by the Government Accountability Office and the VHA Commission on Care to ensure VA care is provided optimally and consistently across different settings.

Secretary Wilkie's 4 Priorities for VA

Customer Service
Our first priority is customer service. That's the prime directive. When Veterans come to VA, it is not up to them to get us to say yes. It's up to us, you and me, to get Veterans to yes. That's customer service. We're going to make sure you're trained and equipped to achieve that.

Implementing the MISSION Act
Our second priority, implementing the MISSION Act, will fundamentally transform VA healthcare. It will consolidate community care into a single program that's easier for Veterans, families, community providers, and all of you to navigate. The MISSION Act also expands our family caregivers program to provide much-needed assistance to the people caring for some of our most needy Veterans day in and day out.

Electronic Health Record
Our third priority is replacing our aging electronic health record. The new electronic health record will modernize our appointment system, automate our disability and payment claims systems, and connect VA to the Department of Defense, private healthcare providers, and private pharmacies. Implementing the electronic health record will be an ongoing, iterative process to build a continuum of care that's organized around Veterans' needs.

Transforming our Business Systems
Our fourth priority is transforming our business systems. We're modernizing human resource management, finance and acquisition, and our supply chain. It's about giving you more leeway to manage budgets, recruit, retain, and relocate staff you need to serve Veterans. It's also about more robust partnerships with state and local communities to address challenges like Veteran homelessness and suicide prevention, our top clinical priority.

VA Fiscal Year 2018-2024 Strategic Plan

The VA FY 2018-2024 Strategic Plan describes the major efforts the Department will undertake through the next five to seven years to deliver tailored and desired outcomes for Veterans. The plan's goals, objectives, and strategies describe essential VA focus areas that are intended to contribute to Veteran well-being, encourage independence, and enhance Veterans' quality of life. Please see https://www.va.gov/performance/ for details.

VHA and ORD Strategic Plans

VA Research's fundamental mission is to advance the healthcare of Veterans. The strategic plan focuses on conducting research that best addresses this mission, and ensures that research professionalism and protection of Veterans' rights are top priorities.