Hagel Orders Health System Action Plans, Data Review

Dan Verton | FedScoop | October 1, 2014

A comprehensive review of the Military Health System released Wednesday found that the Pentagon’s 56 hospitals and 361 clinics generally provide the same quality of care found in the private sector, but the department lacks concrete data and analysis capabilities that could help it improve performance, safety and access to care, especially at facilities found to be significantly underperforming in certain categories.

“Today I’m directing all health care facilities identified as ‘outliers’ in the categories of access, quality and safety to provide action plans for improvement to Deputy Secretary Work within 45 days,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said during a Pentagon press briefing announcing the report’s findings. “I’m also directing the department’s health care leadership to establish a systemwide performance management system that will help scrutinize lapses and monitor progress.” Hagel also ordered that all available data on the Defense Department’s health care system be made public.

The 700-page review, led by Deputy Secretary Work, found that three of the 17 hospitals surveyed performed below national standards for surgical complications and the overall military health system rated poorly on some standards for obstetrics care.  “This was an extremely honest assessment,” Work said. “We don’t want a good health care system, we want a leading health care system, among the best in the United States. We have no crisis,” but there are concerns about the accuracy of the data DOD has been able to collect from the system, as well as the department’s ability to analyze the data to make decisions about needed changes, he said...