July 30, 2016


Quality of Care in VA Health System Compares Well to Other Health Settings (Rand Corporation, July 18, 2016)

"We found that the overall quality of care in the VA health system compares favorably to other segments of the U.S. health care system," said Dr. Courtney Gidengil, co-author of the study and a physician scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "In some areas, the quality of care provided by the VA exceeded what we found in other settings, although there were areas where the quality of VA care fell short."

The RAND study updates and expands a similar one conducted in 2009 and was a part of a large examination of the VA health care system conducted at the request of the U.S. Congress. The VA is the nation's largest integrated health care system.

RAND researchers searched the medical literature to identify research published between January 2005 and January 2015 about the quality of care at VA health facilities compared to non-VA health facilities. A total of 69 articles across dimensions including safety and effectiveness were found.

Twenty-two of the 34 studies on safety and 20 of the 24 studies focusing on effectiveness showed that the same, if not better, quality of care is provided in VA facilities. These studies took into account safety measures and best practices that aim to avoid the illness, injury or death of patients receiving care, such as complications after surgical procedures. Surgical patients in the VA system and VA nursing homes patients had death rates similar to patients in other health systems.

Rates of surgical complications and the availability of services had the least favorable results, but these results were mixed rather than consistently poor.

In terms of effectiveness, VA facilities had similar or superior quality to non-VA facilities with respect to preventive, recommended and end-of-life care, as well as managing medications. For example, outpatient care generally rated higher in VA facilities for diabetes care and screening tests related to heart disease and cancer.

Posted by at July 30, 2016 6:21 PM