Friday, September 09, 2016

Isakson Encourages VA to Adopt Systemwide Health Care Best Practices


Senator Johnny Isakson (above) is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following yesterday:


CONTACT: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
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Isakson Encourages VA to Adopt Systemwide Health Care Best Practices
Praises representatives from VA facilities across the country for developing programs to best fit veterans’ needs
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to adopt health care best practices throughout the Veterans Health Administration to improve health care delivery to veterans and help the VA overcome the many problems it has faced since the department’s wait-time scandal in 2014.
At a committee hearing held to examine the VA’s “Diffusion of Excellence” initiative, which was launched last year to identify and disseminate operational best practices throughout the VA’s health care system, Isakson noted that best practices are crucial to ensuring consistency at VA health care facilities across the country.
“I was a businessman for 33 years,” remarked Isakson. “I ran a company that had a lot of branch offices and I know that if you can replicate where you have predictable quality, predictable service and a predictable image wherever you go, you can build your brand and you can build your business. I think that’s true in a service business like VA health care.”
As chairman, one of Isakson’s top priorities has been to improve health care access and quality for veterans in the wake of the wait-time scandal. He noted the importance of using these best practices to help veterans across the VA system to improve health care and help the VA recover from the scandal.
“Unfortunately, because of the tragedies that took place in Arizona and Denver and in other places, the brand of the VA has been tarnished – not because of best practices, but because of bad practices,” said Isakson. “I’m personally delighted to have this hearing so VA can talk about the success stories that it has discovered and the ‘Diffusion of Excellence’ program. I want to underscore the fact that this [program] is something that needs to be implemented… throughout the VA health systems around the country, so that we have a brand that is recognized for the good things that it does, its quality and its predictability, rather than the story that we see on the news today.”
Isakson praised the efforts of Scott Bryant of the Chillicothe, Ohio, VA Medical Center, who has developed an e-screening program for veterans that improves care coordination using mobile technology, and Dr. Kimberly Garner of the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center in Little Rock, Ark., who has developed a group program to help veterans plan for future medical decisions.
Isakson noted, “One of my passions since I’ve been in Congress is advanced care planning for end of life as a standard practice. It’s something you don’t want to do but it’s so much better for the quality of life that you have and the quality of life that your families have.”
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.