The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) together serve 9.6 million active-duty personnel, military retirees, and their families. Meeting the needs of this population simply couldn’t be done without partnerships with Federal Health Contractors.
The healthcare system for active-duty personnel, retirees, veterans, and their families must not only address basic healthcare needs, but it must also ensure the readiness of our military to meet the defense and emergency needs of our country and address significant long-term medical needs related to combat such as causalities, injuries, and physical and emotional trauma. Inherent in the mission of the DOD and VA health system is a need to enhance recovery and to support those who have served our country and their families on their journey back to wellness.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), demand for long-term care supports increased by 33% from 2014 to 2018 and this demand is expected to continue to increase well into the next decade. Spending is expected to double by 2037. There is strong support for a healthcare system that places greater emphasis on mental healthcare services and suicide prevention. The system must not only meet the medical needs but must also be agile and interact well with private healthcare providers. Electronic health records are key to ensuring portable records and quality of health.
Bringing Agility to the U.S. Healthcare System
Agility in the healthcare system refers to the ability to adapt to changing needs. The need for an agile response can be triggered by anything from a natural disaster, a global pandemic such as covid, changing regulatory requirements, or regional and national staffing shortages. When you are providing health services to the nation’s active-duty military personnel, you also must be able to respond to emerging national and global emergencies, seamlessly provide support to beneficiaries wherever they are deployed, have portable, secure, and easy-to-access medical records, and be able to interact with providers in government facilities as well in local health care systems across the globe.
Federal healthcare contractors are essential players in a robust and agile government healthcare system. In fact, these partnerships with federal healthcare contractors enhance the healthcare systems’ ability to respond to short-term changing needs without bureaucratic obstacles, excessive startup costs, and long-term financial and organizational commitment. Contractors bring the capacity, staff, and expertise to address emerging issues. If the demand will be persistent instead of short-term in duration, government healthcare contractors give the system time to build longer-term capacity while still meeting urgent and critical needs. If it is a short-term issue, the government healthcare contractors help the U.S. Healthcare system meet the demand. Once the situation is resolved, the system can return to baseline. The ability to respond as the needs shift ensures that the U.S. healthcare system is both resilient and responsive.
We often hear about agility in other industries, especially the private sector. Healthcare systems, by their very nature, have stable and fairly rigid practices in place. Healthcare is a highly regulated industry with a high number of payees and regulations around safety and patient privacy. To be efficient, core processes have been tailored for this system. It is when the unusual happens that these rigid systems fall short. Supporting agility in healthcare systems is all about achieving the balance between regulatory requirements that safeguard patient health and privacy and flexibility in workflows, resources, and operations to meet emerging demands effectively. While agile healthcare systems will never be as fluid as other industries such as information technology, there is agility that is appropriate for healthcare systems.
Government contractors bring agility to the U.S. HealthCare system in a variety of ways. They played a key role during the covid pandemic by ensuring that staff was available to meet the demands of a pandemic. Federal government contractors have also partnered in the DOD and VA’s initiatives to upgrade medical information technology including electronic healthcare records systems (EHR). Federal Healthcare Contractors are also engaged in data analysis that shed light on the effectiveness of the U.S. Healthcare system and identify ways to improve it. Another way that these partners increase healthcare agility is to partner with providers to design clinical workflows and protocols that optimize decision-making and flexibility, defining elements of an agile healthcare system.
It is through these public-private partnerships, that our healthcare system will build efficiencies, enhance quality outcomes, and remain patient-centric.
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