USA Today Opens Up VA ‘Secret’ Ratings System

VA Sec McDonald visit to Phoenix VA

Bob McDonald’s first visit as VA Secretary was to the Phoenix VAMC where he met with veterans and employees like Medical Support Assistant Michael Logie. He also visited the Las Vegas VAMC during the trip. Photo courtesy of the VA blog Vantage Point

Reporter Donovan Slack with USA Today reveals internal ratings from the 2015 fourth quarter where the VA ranked the quality of care at 146 VA medical centers. But when she

But VA Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin told USA Today that the rating system p that uses from one to five stars – might not be understood if it was made public because it was designed to only be an “internal improvement tool.”

But without the star ratings, members of the public — including patients, members of Congress and others outside the agency who could hold it accountable — have no way of knowing whether VA medical centers are improving or declining, except to plow through a dizzying array of hundreds of spreadsheets on the agency’s website.

“The data’s there, but you’d have to be an expert to get through it,” Shulkin conceded.

He said 120 of the 146 medical centers that the VA rates on the star scale have shown improvement since he began overseeing the Veterans Health Administration in July 2015.

The newspaper has set up a searchable

Bob McDonald’s first visit as VA Secretary was to the Phoenix VAMC where he met with veterans and employees like Medical Support Assistant Michael Logie. He also visited the Las Vegas VAMC during the trip. Photo courtesy of the VA blog Vantage Point

database if you want to checkout the star rating of your the VA medical center nearest you. You can read the full USA Today article here.

The VA has published a response to the Dec. 7, 2016 USA Today article about their internal ratings tool called Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL). The VA said it worked with the reporter for more than a month on the story and wanted to explain what the ratings represent.

All of us at VA care very much about the quality of care our patients receive. We are committed to continuously improving that quality. In fact, our latest SAIL data indicates that 82% of VA medical centers (120 of 146) have made improvement between the 4th Quarter of FY2015 and the 3rd quarter of FY2016.

You can read the full response and Dr. Shulkin’s comments here.

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