Healthcare Innovation at VA | Analytics Empowerment | Modernization in Defense Health


Presented by SAS & Carahsoft

This program was recorded on location at HIMSS 24.

Enhancing Veteran Care through Interoperability: Insights from Dr. Shereef Elnahal

IMG_2315Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the Undersecretary for Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, highlighted the transformative steps the VA is undertaking to improve veteran healthcare through enhanced interoperability. The initiative aims to enable seamless sharing of health information across various health systems with the consent of veterans, ensuring immediate access to crucial health data by providers. Dr. Elnahal discussed the VA's interoperability pledge, the use of an open API platform named Lighthouse, and innovative policies aimed at addressing critical areas like veteran suicide prevention. He emphasized the importance of consent in sharing health information and the role of technology and innovation in scaling effective healthcare solutions, including efforts to combat clinician burnout and leverage artificial intelligence for better care delivery.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Interoperability Pledge and Expansion: The Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to expanding its interoperability efforts across health systems to facilitate better coordination of care. This includes sharing veteran data with consent, improving care coordination, and allowing healthcare providers to recognize and appropriately treat veterans by having access to their service history and healthcare needs.

  2. Innovative Use of Technology: The VA employs an open API system, Lighthouse, to share veterans' health care records across systems, enhancing the efficiency of health information exchange. Dr. Elnahal also mentioned the department's focus on innovation, such as addressing clinician burnout with AI solutions and improving care through digital tools, highlighting the VA's proactive approach in integrating technology for better health outcomes.

  3. Veteran-Centric Policies and Care: Consent from veterans plays a crucial role in the interoperability initiative, ensuring that health information is used judiciously and only in the context of providing care. The VA's policies, including covering care costs for veterans in acute suicidal crisis and expanding healthcare eligibility, demonstrate a deep commitment to addressing the comprehensive needs of veterans and ensuring they receive the care and recognition they deserve. 


Empowering Decision-Making and Streamlining Workflows with Analytics: A Conversation with Steve Kearney of SAS

IMG_2291Steve Kearney, Global Medical Director at SAS, discussed the transformative impact of analytics and AI in enhancing decision-making processes and operational efficiency within federal agencies and healthcare systems. Kearney highlighted SAS's longstanding commitment to delivering analytics solutions, emphasizing the crucial role of data in facilitating more informed decisions. Through a specific example, Kearney illustrated how SAS initiatives, such as medical bookmarking, have significantly reduced workflow times by 85,000 hours, demonstrating the potential for analytics to improve service delivery to citizens and satisfaction among healthcare workers and leaders. He stressed the importance of trust, transparency, and governance in analytics, and the necessity of keeping the patient and citizen at the center of all operations to ensure successful digital transformations in organizations like the Defense Health Agency (DHA) and Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Key Takeaways:

  1. Longstanding Commitment to Analytics: SAS has been at the forefront of delivering analytics solutions for nearly 50 years, underscoring the importance of utilizing data to make better decisions and operationalize insights in various environments, including federal agencies.

  2. Significant Workflow Improvements: Initiatives like medical bookmarking, which aims to digitize and streamline the handling of PDF documents for healthcare services, have led to dramatic reductions in workflow times, exemplifying how analytics can enhance efficiency and service delivery.

  3. Trust and Transparency in Analytics: Kearney emphasized the critical nature of trust, transparency, and governance in the use of analytics, ensuring that all stakeholders can rely on the data and insights provided to make informed decisions. This approach not only improves workflow but also contributes to the satisfaction of both service recipients and the workforce, moving towards a more efficient and effective decision-making process.


Revolutionizing Healthcare Delivery: A Strategic Vision by Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland

IMG_2226Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland, Director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA), shares a visionary approach to modernizing healthcare delivery within the military system, focusing on technology integration and care model innovation to better serve a diverse patient base of over 9.5 million beneficiaries. Crosland emphasizes a patient-centric approach, aiming to not only address healthcare needs but also promote wellness and empower patients through effective use of their data. The modernization journey involves reevaluating and redesigning care delivery by eliminating non-value-adding processes and adopting technology solutions that meet current patient expectations. This strategic overhaul is underpinned by a significant focus on change management, cultural shift, and leadership to ensure a smooth transition that benefits patients, healthcare teams, and the broader system.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Patient-Centric Modernization: Crosland's priority lies in transforming the healthcare system to be more patient-focused, enhancing the patient experience and addressing both healthcare and wellness needs. This involves leveraging technology to provide personalized, efficient care and empowering patients through better use of their health data.

  2. Redefining Care Delivery Models: The modernization effort includes critically examining and redesigning care processes to make them more efficient and effective. This includes integrating virtual care options and rethinking traditional healthcare delivery methods to align with the evolving expectations of beneficiaries and the capabilities of the healthcare workforce.

  3. Emphasis on Leadership and Cultural Change: Successful implementation of these modernization efforts relies heavily on strong leadership and a willingness to navigate through cultural and operational shifts within the healthcare system. Crosland highlights the importance of engaging with healthcare teams and patients to co-create value and reassign roles in a way that no one feels their contribution is diminished. The goal is to enhance satisfaction among both patients and providers, fostering a more collaborative and innovative healthcare environment.

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