The nation’s hospital system for military veterans is not yet out of trouble, as a report on Wednesday warning of danger to patients at the Washington, D.C., veterans hospital demonstrates. But the new head of the VA reacted quickly to the report, almost immediately replacing its director. And he announced that he welcomes public complaints about his department’s performance.
According to Dr. David Shulkin, recently confirmed as Secretary of Veteran Affairs, the best way to improve service at VA hospitals is to expose them to public pressure for change. To that end, he announced the creation of a new website that will eventually compare every VA hospital’s performance with that of nearby public hospitals, and also provide reports on how long it takes to get service.
Certainly, the notion that transparency encourages quick action was the motivating factor in VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal’s decision to issue a rare interim report on conditions at the Washington VA Medical Center.
“We have not seen anything quite like this at a VA facility,” Mr. Missal told The Washington Post. “Hospitals are typically chaotic places, but this was the highest levels of chaos. Staff was literally scrambling every day. Sometimes they would have to go to other hospitals to get equipment as a procedure was going on.”
Dr. Shulkin said the problems experienced by the VA have the attention of President Donald Trump. “He wants to fix it. My answer to him is, the way that you fix this is not by internally motivating people to fix it — you actually need the external environment.
“In my experience in health care — but it’s like every other industry — industries don’t change from within, they change from outside competition, and they change from outside forces, and that’s very much my philosophy.”
That is a philosophy very much…