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VA launches command center to track wait times, avoidable complications

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently launched a "healthcare improvement center" to identify and mediate problems at VA hospitals nationwide, USA Today reports.

The command center, which has been active for several months, comprises maps and lists of various data analyses, displayed on 16 screens. Employees at the center are able to view data related to rates of death, avoidable complications, workplace staffing and wait times.

"It's much like you would expect an air-traffic-control system to be — to make sure that they know the altitude of their planes, the speed of their planes so they can have safe landings and safe takeoffs," VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD, told USA Today. "That's what we’re doing in our healthcare system."

The goal of the command center is to track problems to drive internal management decisions, whether speaking with hospital leadership or dispatching data-driven solutions. For example, after detecting a high nurse vacancy rate at a hospital in Little Rock, Ark., employees at the center helped create a job fair. The job fair resulted in 84 nurses taking jobs at the hospital, according to Dr. Shulkin.

"If we had not taken what I would call dramatic intervention, we may have had to start limiting services there or the quality of care could have gone down," Dr. Shulkin told USA Today.

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