VA overflow may affect many hospitals, clinics

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With the recent high-profile troubles of the Department of Veterans Affairs, a new solution to patient overcrowding and lack of available services has been instituted, thanks to a federal mandate. (See PDF below) Veterans are being referred more frequently to hospitals and clinics outside of the VA healthcare system for more effective and timely care. The administration's new policy is to refer any patient inside the system who has an appointment scheduled more than 30 days away from the current date or is on the electronic wait list to other VA resources. If this isn't possible, then care at a facility outside the system will be made available. The policy is expected to take about three months to reach full implementation and will become a permanent part of operations.

For the civilian healthcare providers that will begin to take the VA's overflow, there are a number of potential problems that may arise. Modern Healthcare reports that many providers have experienced problems gaining reimbursement from the VA in the past. While the scale of the referral system is growing, it has been in place for decades and many providers reported having submitted claims that were then wrongly denied due to administrative oversight or error on the part of the VA.

Another possible issue is treating patients with illnesses and injuries that are common inside the VA care system but far less prevalent in the civilian population. Modern Healthcare provides the example of Gulf War syndrome, a serious, multi-symptom illness that has affected hundreds of thousands of veterans of that conflict, but is almost unknown outside of those who participated in that military action.

A need for better hospital inventory management
As veterans begin entering the public healthcare system, hospitals and clinics will need to make sure all processes, from staffing and scheduling to supply chain management, are as efficient as possible to counteract possible reimbursement delays and deal with increased patient volume. Using an enhanced inventory system such as JumpStock allows healthcare providers to find efficiencies in their systems and reduce financial obligations by drastically reducing overstocking and out-of-plan purchasing when involved in a group purchasing organization. By using cloud storage and information sharing, IT and server costs are functionally eliminated, while the use of employees own smartphones and tablets to host the software allows hospitals and clinics to get rid of specialized hardware costs as well.