VA to state Veterans directors: We’re advancing technology to improve access, services to Veterans


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On Feb. 26, Scott R. Blackburn, the executive in charge of VA’s Office of Information and Technology spoke to the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs about advancing technology to improve access and services to Veterans during the organization’s mid-winter conference.

“We are on an ambitious journey to become the No. 1 customer service agency within the federal government,” said Blackburn who was presented the 2018 NASDVA Advocate of the Year Award during the conference. “New and emerging IT solutions—such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and self-service tools—are revolutionizing the way Veterans receive care, benefits, and services. We must stay abreast of new solutions and cutting-edge technology if we want to deliver the world-class experience that our Veterans deserve.”

The use of technology is vital the department’s key initiatives and vision for modernizing VA systems by better managing data, migrating information to the cloud, improving cybersecurity, digitizing business processes and decommissioning legacy systems.

“We are streamlining our approach to take advantage of new technology and industry best practices in order to rapidly improve the ways we deliver care, benefits and services to Veterans,” Blackburn said. “We are embracing change and refocusing on why and how we serve Veterans.”

Blackburn, like many of those attending the conference, has a personal stake in improving the experience for Veterans that chose VA for their care. He shared his own journey of medical care as a Veteran himself.

“VA is not only my place of work, but it’s where I choose to receive my health care and benefits,” he said. “Throughout my adult life, I have used a combination of DoD, VA and private health care. After I sustained a service-related injury, I received care from DoD. Once I was discharged, I received private health care. Now, I get my care from VA. We want all Veterans to choose VA like I have, not because it might be their only choice, but because we are the best at what we do.”

VA is making major efforts to shift its culture from information silos and bureaucratic processes to collaboration and principles-based decision on actual Veteran outcomes. These steps, while not fully implemented VA-wide have made great strides in improving the Veteran experience and winning back their trust, which stood at a low 47 percent in January 2016, but has since improved to 70 percent.

The National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs represent all 50 states and territories and are the second largest provider of services to Veterans . Each director is tasked by their state with the responsibility to address the needs of Veterans regardless of age, gender, era of service, military branch or circumstance of service. Collectively, states contribute more than $6 billion annually in of our nation’s Veterans and their families.

Author

Gary Hicks

is the Director of VA’s Office of Digital Media Engagement. He is a former managing editor of a daily newspaper and a Veteran of the U.S. Army. Gary’s wife is a senior master sergeant stationed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Comments

  1. James E. Cudd    

    I am a s/c disabled veteran permanent and total with 2- 100% ‘s. i need female providers. I have had many years of negative response from the VAMC I have been using for the last 40 + years. I have at least 19 medical issues that i have not had much medical attention on. since 2016 I have requested a female provider and was refused and was never told why until a few weeks ago. I was in the community hospital 2 xs last year both life threatening. right now I am getting care in the community with a couple of drs. I am not comfortable with, I am paying for my own medical care out of pocket. Last year the same doctor that is being forced on me to see–put federal charges on me along with the nurse and they still kept saying I had to see that doctor. found out they didn’t have a female to switch me to and I don’t have a Primary Care in the VAMC. They have refused to put me with a doctorin the community on vet’s choice saying I was not eligible. They cut out the Fee-Basis card program and said last year the vets choice replaced the Fee Care. Because of the federal charges placed against me and dropped by the federal court , I and my wife went through so much with this and at the same time being in the hospital fighting for my life at the same time; I do not wish to step foot on that property again because they could the same thing again, which this particular incident was the 3-4 time they have tried this and never got away with it. What can I do to get my medical care benefits? I tried Patient Advocate and they refused to talk to me– they bounced me back to the Primary doctor’s clinic that put federal charges against me. I do not want to talk to her and her nurse nor do I want to ever sit in front of her or her nurse. I am Blind and severe PTSD fromMST. I am now 69 years old and tired of fighting for my medical benefits. I need somebody on my side in the VA Health care system —-or do I just need to get a lawyer???

  2. franklin g clayton    

    feel that VA remiss in not having a cell phone data services assistance or discount for vets to access the mobile apps touted by the VA. The monthly charge by commercial carriers is far too expensive for such limited usage.

  3. Randall L Weaver    

    We need to let veteran’s to choose their own Doctor – I am to old to drive 100 miles to a Va Hospital to get treatment! Many VA Hospitals are in small towns far away from major cities – how it got this way befuddles me, I suspect it was political at the time they were built.

  4. Scott Bowen    

    I hope that while executing this plan to modernize that the VA IT staff puts some focus on usability. If the don’t all these efforts will be in vain, as usability of VA applications for both veterans and staff has never been a priority. As a retired IT professional I have been appalled be the poor application design repeatedly demonstrated by the VA IT staff. I can honestly say the their work has to be some of the worst I have seen, I hav yet to see an application for the VA that could pass a review to make it into production in any business.

  5. NTS JOBS    

    YES IT IT IS VERY GOOD

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