VA health system's supply chain issues could hinder patient care, GAO report suggests

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The Veterans Health Administration has been slow to modernize its supply chain, and that could be putting the quality of veterans' healthcare at risk, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Nov. 18. 

The Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated health system in the U.S. But it isn't using established processes for major supply purchases and has been slow to adopt recommendations from the GAO on how to improve its supply chain operations. 

"Clearly the VA needs a modern supply chain. Our veterans and healthcare employees deserve nothing less. Unfortunately, VA is years away from that goal," Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., told 13 News Now, an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Hampton, Va.

The VA's Medical-Surgical Prime Vendor program is its primary source for medical supplies. In 2017, the GAO reported that the program lacked an overarching strategy, stable leadership and medical center buy-in. Despite some improvements, the program has yet to fully meet medical centers' needs for medical supplies, the GAO said in its Nov. 18 report. 

Medical centers continue to face shortcomings of the program, including frequent backorders, the GAO said. 

"VA leaders need to change course before the whole medical supply chain crashes on the rocks," Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan., told 13 News Now.  

The GAO has made 51 recommendations to improve the VA's supply chain since 2015, and the VA has implemented 29 of them, the GAO said. 

"Addressing such fundamental issues is difficult, but it is essential if VA is to position itself to provide consistent, high-quality healthcare for the veterans it serves daily and in times of crises," the GAO concluded. 

Read the full report here

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