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VA patients get better chronic, preventive care than similar US adults

Patients enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system are significantly more likely than similar patients in the general population to receive preventive and chronic care recommended by well-established national standards, according to a new study released today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers with VA; the RAND Corporation; the University of California, Los Angeles; and the University of Michigan compared the medical records of VA and non-VA patients and evaluated how effectively health care is delivered for acute, chronic and preventive care for 26 medical conditions.

The study found that:

  • Overall, VA patients received 67 percent of recommended care compared with 51 percent in the national sample.
  • Performance in the VA health system outpaced the national sample for chronic care; 72 percent of indicated chronic care was delivered to VA patients compared with 59 percent in the national sample.
  • Quality of preventive care, such as pneumococcal vaccination and screening for colorectal cancer, showed even greater differences; 64 percent of indicated preventive care was delivered to VA patients compared with 44 percent in the national sample.
  • Generally, VA patients received consistently better care across the entire spectrum of care, including screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.
  • Quality of care for acute conditions was similar across both study populations.

The study compared the quality of outpatient and inpatient care between a national sample of patients drawn from 12 communities representative of metropolitan areas with populations of 200,000 or more and a sample of VA patients from 26 facilities in 12 health care systems located in the Southwestern and Midwestern United States. It assessed 348 clinical indicators of quality for the 26 acute and chronic conditions such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, asthma, high blood pres
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