For the second consecutive year, the Department of Veterans Affairs has released a "hospital report card" as part of VA's effort to provide the public with a transparent accounting of the quality and safety of its care.
"This report demonstrates VA's determination to be open and accountable," VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. "As a health-care organization, transparency of information is essential to providing quality care for our veterans."
In addition, for the first time, data from both the 2008 and 2009 reports will be available  to the public in machine-readable format on Data.gov. To empower veterans and the public at large to track quality, safety and access to Veterans Health Administration facilities, VA's hospital report cards include raw data on care provided in outpatient and hospital settings, quality of care within given patient populations, and patient satisfaction and outcomes.
VA issued its first facility-level report on quality and safety in May 2008. As part of the Obama administration's commitment to open government and accountability, VA highlights its rigorous quality programs and actions taken to address the issues VA identified from the last report.
The report gives the health-care system high marks, with VA facilities often outscoring private-sector health plans in standards commonly accepted by the health care industry.
In addition to allowing VA to demonstrate the quality and safety of its care, the report card provides opportunities to enhance health services.
Some of the marked improvements that VA showed in 2009 include: • Smoking cessation counseling provided to 89 percent of veteran patients, a 6 percent improvement from 2008; and• Among all ages at risk, 94 percent of veterans received a pneumonia immunization, a 4 percent improvement.
The report notes there is more to be done for women veterans. To address this priority and provide women veterans with the highest quality care, VA has implemented several initiatives, such as placement of women advocates in every outpatient clinic and medical center, and creating a "mini-residency" program on women's health for primary care physicians.
The report also found minority veterans are generally less satisfied with inpatient and outpatient care than other veterans. In addition to targeting outreach efforts to these veterans, a minority veteran program coordinator has been placed in every medical center.