VHA provides excellent healthcare to six million veterans – some say the best care anywhere. Not only have we earned higher marks in patient satisfaction than the private sector, we also lead the nation in measures of quality.
However, we know that the reality of veteran healthcare is changing dramatically. Today we treat patients who range from 19-year-old veterans who served in uniform in Baghdad to 87-year-old veterans who served at Omaha Beach. While healthcare legislation is being implemented across the country, which will bring more choice to veterans, we will likely see constraints on government spending in the near future. As well, chronic disease is overwhelming the American healthcare system, eating up 75% of all health-care dollars.
If we are to survive and do right by our veterans, we must accelerate our move toward a patient-centered healthcare-delivery system.
Today, VHA is transforming – shifting fundamentally and radically from a problem-based disease-care system to a patient-centered healthcare system. This approach puts the desires of the veteran first. I am so committed to patient-centered care that I created a new office called Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, and actively recruited Tracy Gaudet, MD, former executive director of Duke Integrated Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Raleigh, NC.
So what does the future look like for VA healthcare? To begin with, it will be people-centric, results-driven and forward-thinking.