Hey, these guys are doing really good work to support veterans, who need better computer systems for health claims and educational benefits. It's a long, hard slog, after years of neglect.
One such effort is Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record initiative, which gets electronic health records between the Defense and Veterans Affairs
departments. I've learned that's a lot harder than one would think.
However, I feel the really big deal is the use of social media to change the way the VA does business. They need to get stuff done a lot faster and better, and they're figuring out how to do that:
VA is using social networking to find
innovate ways to reduce a backlog of benefit claims filed by veterans.
The department solicited advice from employees through an internal Web
site and has received about 3,000 ideas for improving processing and
6,000 comments so far. VA and White House officials will consider the
recommendations as they develop a strategy to revamp management of
"This is what social networking is all about — how do we get the
organization to help improve itself," said Baker, who writes a blog for
a different networking site established for VA's 7,000 IT employees.
"That's the power of the masses," he added. "Hierarchical management
[structures] are important for getting things done, but they're rotten
for communication. You need to figure out what good ideas are coming
from folks in the field. I assure you, everything we're doing to
improve things at VA has already been thought of by those 7,000 people."
Similarly, VA is examining different options for speeding up
benefits enrollment for veterans, without "paving the cow path" by
simply moving inefficient, existing processes online, Baker said. It
currently takes about 75 minutes to sign up.
"If we don't use the newer technologies to help us make the process
faster, we're going to continue to have the same issue," he said.