GAO: VA must improve monitoring of clinical productivity

The Department of Veteran Affairs must improve its data collection methods to better monitor clinical efficiency, according to a Government Accountability Office report released June 23.

The GAO analyzed statistical models the VA currently uses to measure the time and effort providers take to deliver procedures at VA medical centers. To assess the accuracy of these productivity metrics, the GAO reviewed VA documents, interviewed VA officials and visited six VAMCs.

The office determined the VA's productivity metrics are often incomplete, in part because they do not account for all providers or clinical services. Additionally, the VA's productivity metrics may not accurately reflect the intensity of a provider's clinical workload or staffing levels due to inaccurate coding, the report noted.

As a result of the investigation, the GAO made four recommendations to help the VA better monitor and measure clinical productivity, including:

1. Expanding productivity metrics to track all veterans' care providers;

2. Ensuring accuracy of staffing and workload data, for example, through additional training on coding clinical;

3. Implementing a standard process that requires VAMCs to monitor and improve clinical efficiency; and

4. Establishing a process to review VAMCs' remediation plans.

The VA "concurred or concurred in principle" with all four recommendations.

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