Until recently, the VA’s quality-of-care ratings for its medical facilities across the United States remained private. Last month, a USA TODAY investigation exposed the secret rating system for the 146 VA medical centers across the country. The VA had rated each facility on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the best rating and one being the worst. Many factors are used to rate the facilities.
It seems that media coverage generated by the USA TODAY article led the VA to post updated ratings on its own website, as well as indicators of whether each hospital was improving or declining. This is the first time that veterans were able to review information about the quality of the care provided by these medical centers over time.
In addition to the ratings published by the VA, other resources are available for veterans who wish to see VA medical center ratings. One website launched last year, VA Review, can be used by veterans to rate VA hospitals and to determine the best facilities in their areas. This website is independently run by a vet who has received healthcare through the VA system from around 20 different hospitals and outpatient clinics throughout the country. The developer of VA Review has set a goal to maintain 100% transparency when it comes to the reviews and ratings of VA facilities across the country. The site hopes to present the trends regarding facilities in a transparent fashion so that the veteran community “can begin a conversation on how to best improve upon weaknesses” at certain facilities. Vets are able to use the website to review facilities and connect with other veterans in forums.
All in all, increased transparency on the part of the federal government and from independent websites like VA Review will work in vets’ favors. This type of information will allow veterans to make more informed decisions about their healthcare and will provide additional information to the government regarding improvements that can be made.