Chats with the Chief features VHA Chief of Staff Jon Jensen as he talks with key players about the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and how it serves America’s Veterans. In this episode, he’s joined by VA’s Acting Deputy Secretary Pamela Powers, who talks about VA’s new electronic health record go-live and VA’s commitment to elevating the Veteran care experience.
In the episode (shown below), Powers briefly discusses growing up in Minnesota, and leads off with a lesson her parents taught her as a child. That lesson struck her early on, as a bottom line, in how to succeed in life. That mantra is a perfect segue into her role now, as Acting Deputy Secretary, where lately she has traveled to various states, visiting VA Medical Centers and clinics, and greeting VA employees on the front lines of the COVID pandemic.
“I’ve been trying to get out to thank all of our incredible staff who have really been on the front lines of this fight. And also to continue our modernization,” she tells Jensen.
On modernization, Jensen notes that VHA is the largest integrated health care system in the country, and one that’s currently undergoing implementation of a new electronic health record.
It was a complex but “near flawless execution,” Powers says, adding that VA had to build and integrate 75 interfaces, triple what the private sector and double what DOD has managed. “We’re really, really proud of our VHA team, our electronic health records team, IT team, OEI, everybody” that played a role in its development, she adds.
Without spoiling the rest of the podcast, it covers VHA innovation, whole health, women’s health, how facilities have reacted to the pandemic, looking into the future, and creating a sustainable work-life balance for employees. It’s the employees, Powers notes, that has inspired her the most.
“I am humbled by how incredible our team is across the board,” she says. “VHA folks, you know, everywhere I go, are just in it to win it, right? They’re in it to serve Veterans and in it to make a difference and are incredibly dedicated.”