VA Health IT Generates $3 Billion Savings

Over a 10-year period, the VA lowered costs while improving healthcare quality because of its health IT investments, says a research group.. (Information Week – HealthCare)

During the decade 1997 to 2007, the Department of Veterans Affairs spent $4 billion on health IT investments and saved more than $7 billion over the same period, a new study finds.

The study reported that the VA’s use of technology lowered costs by a net of $3.09 billion, while improving quality, safety, and patient satisfaction. It was conducted by members of the Center for Information Technology Leadership, a Charlestown, Mass. academic research organization that assesses the impact of health information technologies.

“VA has seen its investment in health information technology pay off for veterans and taxpayers for many years, and this study provides positive evidence for this correlation,” said secretary of veterans affairs Eric Shinseki. “The benefits have exceeded costs, proving that the implementation of secure, efficient systems of electronic records is a good ideal for all our citizens.”

Technology that eliminated duplicate tests and reduced medical errors accounted for more than 86% of the department’s savings. Lower operating expenses and reduced workloads accounted for all other savings.

During the last two decades, the VA has adopted a full range of health IT to address patient care including computerized patient records, bar-coded medications, radiological imaging, and laboratory and medication ordering.

According to the study’s authors, the findings “serve as a framework to inform efforts to measure and calculate the benefits of federal health IT stimulus programs.”

The authors also note that “this analysis is the first to examine the potential value of long-term investments in several health IT applications across settings in the VA. Our findings suggest that the VA’s investment in the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture is associated with significant value through reductions in unnecessary and redundant care, process efficiencies, and improvements in care quality. We conservatively estimate that the VA’s investments in the four health IT systems studied yielded $3.09 billion in cumulative benefits net of investment costs by 2007.” In addition to savings, the study also found that technology has helped VA patients meet clinical guidelines through the use of electronic medical records and computerized physician alerts.

The study selected diabetes as a focus of quality to measure the approximately 25% of VA patients who have diabetes. When compared to Medicare’s private-sector benchmark, the results showed that VA patients with diabetes had better glucose testing compliance and control, better controlled cholesterol, and more timely retinal exams. Retinal damage can be caused by diabetes. The VA averaged about 15 percentage points higher than the private sector on preventative care for patients with diabetes.

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6 replies
  1. Geneloeb Aronin, Ph.D.
    Geneloeb Aronin, Ph.D. says:

    Thanks for your reply. I am also interested in your work and the effectiveness of your system so I can write about it. Sorry I didn’t see you at the American Society on Aging April 15th conference. It was great. I have copies of presentation.

    Happy to see you on the blog. It is very thorough and growing in influence. I heard you were located in West Bend, Wisconsin with a rep in Milwaukee. Important to me because I was born in Madison and raised in Milwaukee. Hope to speak with you.

  2. GrandCare Systems
    GrandCare Systems says:

    Yes – we are headquartered in West Bend, WI with reps throughout the united states. We have a few reps in the Milwaukee area. I went to school at UW Madison, so I know the area quite well and LOVE IT!
    I have a dealer in Chicago that was going to get in touch with you! His name is Ron from Connected Community. Thanks for your interest!!!
    Laura Mitchell

  3. DealerWeb
    DealerWeb says:

    To learn more about the VA (Dept of Veterans Affairs), Rita Cobb, Training Center Director/Education Specialist of the VA, is speaking on our weekly agetech call on Thursday July 29th. She will discuss the various technologies VA is deploying to positively impact veterans and their families.

    The weekly AgeTech Calls are every Thursday at 2pm Eastern Time (1p Central). We meet on a webinar: . There is an optional dial-in that is listed on the top of the webinar. All are welcome and encouraged to join us (and promote the industry’s ONLY aging and technology weekly webinar)

    To sign up to receive email notifications on weekly topics, please register here ( ) or view upcoming topics:

  4. James Gleason
    James Gleason says:

    This is just more proof that technology can save the healthcare system money. Lets hope that articals like this continue to to make it into the main stream.

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