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The VA's New Approach to Healthcare IT is Surprising -- But Useful

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 @ 06:04 AM

vaapproachtoit.jpgThe VA's operational, managerial, and technological struggles have made nationwide news in recent months and years.

But the Department of Veteran Affairs is working on a new approach to scheduling, EHR interoperability, and billing.

Since the VA is an extreme case in terms of the problems they're facing, resources available, and unique constraints given their governmental status, their approach to these changes is surprising -- and potentially a good model for other hospital systems.As Fierce Healthcare reports, "Lawmakers continued to criticize VA officials for using decades-old legacy systems, drawing comparisons to the overwhelming costs required to maintain an old car."

We tend to trust that despite all of the VA's challenges, the vast majority of administrators and healthcare providers are doing their absolute best to improve care at VA hospitals, within the constraints they have. A recent article reports that they are making a fairly dramatic shift in how they approach their IT and their purchasing. As Fierce Healthcare reports, the VA is "considering commercial products and moving data to the cloud instead of spending money building customized in-house systems."

So does that shift have anything to teach the rest of us who are also trying to improve our systems, while cutting costs, and improving performance? We think so.

There are three great ways to improve performance and adaptability while not increasing costs, as the VA is beginning to find:

Don't build everything custom.
As David Powner, director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office said, "Buying instead of building is the way to go." There is a growing community of products available for the healthcare system, iClickCare being just one of them. Are they all perfect? Of course not. But if you keep a shrewd eye on HIPAA compliance and a high prioritization on ease of use, you often more easily find an off-the-shelf product that will meet your needs than building from scratch.

Use the cloud.
The VA says they're looking more to cloud-based software, and that certainly makes sense to us. iClickCare has always been cloud-based because it allows us to be constantly updating the software as needs change, technology improves, and our offerings evolves. It means that with a single subscription, you get cutting edge technology -- without your team needing to use time or resources to update it yourselves.

Don't over-invest in hardware.
The Government Accountability Office has estimated that a large portion of the VA's budget has been going to maintain systems that are more than 50 years old. Wasteful? Definitely? Dumb? Probably not. This type of expenditure often comes from having a lot of hardware that would be impossible to update but expensive to replace. This isn't just the VA's problem, though, it's every hospital system's challenge when they've overinvested in hardware, rather than investing in software, systems, and people. As we've shared in other posts, hardware is often the least cost-effective, least innovative way to pursue telemedicine -- and this concept applies to other Healthcare IT as well.


We look forward to seeing the VA evolve and grow in coming years, and we hope that this shift toward modernizing their approach to IT is the sign of more great things to come. 


If you're curious how iClickCare works to limit your hardware expenditures and keep you HIPAA safe, click here to learn more:

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Tags: telemedicine, healthcare collaboration software

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