Department of Veterans Affairs Outperforms Private Health Care Facilities in Consumer Satisfaction, Survey Finds
The quality of care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system rated higher among patients than that provided by private health care facilities, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the Washington Post reports. The telephone survey -- conducted in October 2005 by researchers at the University of Michigan National Quality Research Center, CFI Group and the Federal Consulting Group -- involved more than 200 veterans who received care at one of the 154 VA hospitals or 875 clinics nationwide.
According to the survey, satisfaction for VA inpatient care received a score of 83 on a 100-point scale, and satisfaction for outpatient care received a score of 80. In a similar survey of patients who received care at private health care facilities, satisfaction for inpatient care at those facilities received a score of 73, and satisfaction for outpatient care received a score of 75. The results mark the sixth consecutive year that the VA health care system has outperformed private health care facilities in the area of customer satisfaction.
"We're very pleased and continue to be very proud of the work that people are doing in this vast health care system," VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said. Nicholson attributed the results to the implementation of an electronic health records system to reduce risk for medical errors, as well as other reforms. He said, "Our system has become not only much more efficient, but safer."
Peter Gaytan, director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation for the American Legion, added, "The old image of the VA warehousing veterans has changed immensely in the past 20 years." However, Gaytan said that many veterans must wait months or travel long distances to receive care in the VA health care system because of budgetary issues. Gaytan said, "The problem that the American Legion has is the accessibility to care. There are veterans waiting in line to receive care. With the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, it's our hope that they won't be turned away."
Nicholson said, "We absolutely are working on that and are making progress" (Stein, Washington Post, 1/20).