The percentage of health care providers in New York State who "met all criteria for effectively serving the veteran population." according to a new RAND Corporation study -- Ready or Not? Assessing the Capacity of New York State Health Care Providers to Meet the Needs of Veterans.
This report addressed several specific research areas: assessing the demographics, training, and practice characteristics of health care providers in New York; how familiar those providers are with aspects of military and Veteran culture; and provider experience with Veterans as patients and with the Veterans Health Administration. A six-point definition was used to determine provider readiness: Providers must be accepting new patients, they must be prepared to treat and manage conditions common among the Veteran population, they should be using clinical practice guidelines for high-quality care, they should be screening for problems that are common among Veterans, they should provide accommodations for those with disabilities or mental health care needs, they should have a basic understanding of military and Veteran culture, and they should routinely ask if patients are Veterans, Service members, or military family members.
The authors determined that while timeliness was not a problem, the number of prepared providers dropped precipitously when factoring in such qualities as familiarity with military culture and screenings for military affiliation or for conditions common among Veterans.
Although 61% of providers reported that new patients would be able to get an appointment within two weeks, and 45% indicated patients could get a same-day appointment, "(o)nly 20 percent of New York–licensed health care professionals reported routinely screening their patients for a military or veteran affiliation, with significant differences across provider types and by region."
As a result, many providers are missing an opportunity to begin a conversation about how having a military history and background might have contributed to their Veteran patients' current medical condition. Providers are also missing an opportunity to understand how military culture could shape Veterans' preferences and attitudes about treatment.