Health Data Management: Senator, VA at odds over decision support tool for community care

“A real-time decision support tool is not getting used by Department of Veterans Affairs’ providers and their patients in the way it was intended, according to one senior U.S. senator.”

“Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said during a hearing last week that he is ‘concerned by reports that the decision support tool that was supposed to assist veterans and their providers in making decisions on where to get care is being underutilized because providers are choosing not to use it.’”

“Tester contends that the purpose of the decision support tool is threefold: to help VA providers quickly review the criteria proscribed in the VA Mission Act of 2018; determine whether a veteran is eligible and would be best served utilizing private sector care through the Community Care Program; and document the decision rationale in the veteran’s electronic medical record.”

“However, Tester and the VA see the value of the decision support tool quite differently.”

“’The decision support tool is a tool provided for staff to assist them in making decisions, but it was never mandated,’ said Christina Mandreucci, VA press secretary, in response to a query regarding Tester’s concerns. ‘In some cases, like Alaska where every veteran is eligible for community care, it is not needed. In other cases, where a provider is familiar with their patients, they could have those discussions with the patients without the need for a tool to guide the discussions…'”

“Still, Tester said that the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee must have the VA’s commitment to have these IT systems up and running by the end of the summer to support an expanded Community Care Program.”

“Even in that timeframe, Tester noted that it would be a full year after the agency was required to complete the project. Under the MISSION Act, the VA was required to implement major parts of the new Community Care Program by June 6, 2019…” Read the full article here.

Source: Senator, VA at odds over decision support tool for community care – By Greg Slabodkin, February 9, 2020. Health Data Management.

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