The Government Accountability Office is recommending the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs make changes to ensure consistency in health care for both servicemembers and veterans.
The Pentagon and VA were mandated by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act to develop clinical practice guidelines in military treatment facilities in regard to specific health conditions including mental health, pain management and rehabilitation.
“There’s probably a couple of key takeaways from our report. The good news is that [DoD and VA] have jointly developed these clinical practice guidelines,” Debra Draper, Director of the Health Care Team at GAO, said. “They have 22 currently… though each of the military services has its own process for disseminating these clinical practice guidelines, so there is no standardized process for this.”
In a report released earlier this month, GAO recommends that the Defense Health Agency should work with each military branch to monitor the progress of clinical practice guideline implementation at military treatment facilities.
“Having a systematic monitoring process would be very helpful because it would focus on making sure that variability in the clinical care provided is reduced, also with the aim of improving the quality of health care services that are provided,” Draper said. “Overall the goal would be to ensure better health outcomes across the military health system.”
Draper also said that a lot of this is due to the military services historically operating independently of each other, with the hopes that DHA can create a more uniform process of implementation across DoD.