Veterans Affairs CIO, Roger Baker, Leaves Behind History of Innovation
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has one of the most important missions of any government agency – providing benefits, medical care and services to America’s military personnel upon leaving the armed forces.
In addition to being an important job, serving America’s veteran community is a difficult one. At present, America’s veteran community is about 22 million, with more joining the ranks each day. This number is set to increase even quicker as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
For many years, the VA was under fire for being inefficient in its ability to deliver services to veterans and creating long delays in the delivery of care.In an effort to battle these inefficiencies and deliver better service to America’s veterans, outgoing CIO, Roger Baker, turned to innovation and technology.
It began when he entered the agency in 2008 and established the Performance Management Accountability System (PMAS). PMAS is a data-driven reporting system that enables the agency to increase the efficiency of their IT spending by eliminating, or fixing, underperforming systems and optimizing new implementations. The success of PMAS was so striking that it has been implemented by the White House and other agencies.
Roger Baker announced his resignation in February. He leaves behind a legacy of IT innovation that has made the VA a model for utilizing technology to overcome challenges, provide better care to veterans and increase efficiency. Here are just a few recent examples of the way the VA is embracing new technologies:
- Big Data and Data Analytics: The VA put a request out to vendors at the end of January for a system that can analyze the mountains of veteran health information stored in the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) – the VA’s electronic health record system. By analyzing this data, the agency is looking to identify red flags and risk factors that can help with diagnosis of veterans and improve the quality of care for veterans.
- Mobility: When Roger Baker found VA doctors using their own tablet computers and consumer applications in the VA hospital, he acknowledged that the agency needed to embrace mobility. The agency is implementing mobile devices across its hospitals and using advanced mobile device management (MDM) solutions to ensure the security of VA data and patient privacy.
- Telemedicine: To help bring healthcare services to veterans that aren’t located near VA hospitals, the agency has embraced telepresence solutions that enable patients to attend check-ups with doctors via video. Delivering services via telepresence ensures that all veterans have access to care regardless of their location. The agency is also using these telepresence solutions to monitor patients with chronic conditions and enable veterans to send images and videos of health issues to doctors for analysis.
The care of America’s veterans is a large and immensely important mission with many challenges. Roger Baker’s tenure at the VA will long be remembered for innovative approaches to technology and creative IT implementations designed to overcome these challenges and bring our veterans the services they deserve.
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