For each of the VA’s 135 hospitals, RAND identified three non-VA hospitals that had similar characteristics, such as geographic location. The performance of VA hospitals was compared to similar non-VA hospitals, as well as health systems overall.
The Veterans Health Administration operates the nation’s largest integrated health system, providing care at 1,240 facilities, including 170 VA medical centers and 1,061 outpatient sites. More than 9 million veterans are enrolled in the VA healthcare program.
Congress, veterans’ groups and President Donald Trump have raised concerns about timely access and quality of care in the VA system. Trump has suggested that the system should be privatized or offer more options on non-VA services.
RAND researchers looked at six measures of inpatient safety, three measures of inpatient mortality and 12 measures of the effectiveness of inpatient care.
Study lead author Rebecca Anhang Price, a senior policy researcher at RAND is quoted in HealthLeaders Media:
Consistent with previous studies, our analysis found that the VA healthcare system generally provides care that is higher in quality than what is offered elsewhere in communities across the nation.
Read a concise review of positive and negative findings in HealthLeadersMedia
UPI Top News reports the researchers noted that veterans may differ from patients in non-VA settings in terms of demographic characteristics and clinical characteristics.
However, the effectiveness measures in the study focus on care recommended for all eligible patients; therefore, all patients, regardless of characteristics, should receive the recommended care, and differing patient characteristics should not bias those comparisons.
Access the RAND Study through the Journal of General Internal Medicine
Read the News Release by RAND Corporation