‘Paperwork stacked five miles high’: VA medical facilities suffer information logjam

A document from the Office of Inspector Overall unearths a genuine backlog of patient recordsdata in veterans’ medical products and companies.

Stacks of patient recordsdata in VA healthcare products and companies maintain gathered to the purpose where if all of the paperwork had been stacked up, they would accumulate a paper tower reaching about 5.15 miles high, according to the Health Files Management Clinical Documentation Backlog document.

The paperwork are presupposed to be scanned and digitized as Electronic Health Records, but a fresh audit reveals that activity is no longer going on fleet or successfully.

The push to digitize VA medical recordsdata accelerated in 2015 when 23.5 million veterans’ health recordsdata had been transferred to a shared recordsdata heart with the Department of Protection. That initiative modified into presupposed to be the start of the unique generation of seamless electronic account-preserving for VA products and companies.

Yet infrastructure problems and a rising backlog of veterans’ recordsdata maintain stalled the VA’s constructing into the digital age.

PHOTO: Pedestrians stroll previous the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., Would possibly well well also honest 10, 2013.Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg by procedure of Getty Photos, FILE
Pedestrians stroll previous the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., Would possibly well well also honest 10, 2013.

In June 2018, President Donald Trump signed the VA Inserting ahead Inside of Programs and Strengthening Built-in Initiate air Networks (MISSION) Act. The guidelines modified into designed to enhance community esteem veterans from non-VA products and companies.

But the act also raised concerns a pair of backlog of medical documentation, which would possibly perchance possibly perchance well receive it more difficult for veterans to construct up identified and handled.

As of July 19, 2018, VA medical products and companies had a “cumulative medical documentation backlog of paper documentation that … contained on the least 597,000 particular person electronic doc recordsdata dating assist to October 2016,” the inspector frequent’s document talked about.

Among its key findings, the document says that products and companies tormented by patient recordsdata backlogs:

  • maintain crew that are no longer scanning documentation or getting into electronic medical recordsdata in a timely system;
  • lack enough review and monitoring processes to guarantee scanned doc are legible;
  • lack conversation between products and companies’ Health Files Managers and facility directors about digital account processes;
  • face staffing shortages; and
  • achieve no longer need any consistent coaching or scanning insurance policies.

    The audit modified into performed by procedure of an on-effect of dwelling evaluate of eight products and companies and interviews performed at seventy eight. The inspector frequent outlined several solutions to again VA products and companies navigate the backlog that consist of establishing insurance policies formally defining “medical doc backlogs;” enforcing formal controls to show screen backlogs; assessing scanning processes; and acquiring the notable sources within scanning departments.

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