VA cuts disability claims backlog, improves decision accuracy | Study: Female troops have same PTSD risk as males | Veteran with ALS pushes DOD, VA to invest in research
August 26, 2015
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VA cuts disability claims backlog, improves decision accuracy
The Department of Veterans Affairs has cut the backlog of disability claims older than 125 days to 98,535 claims, and decision accuracy has improved from about 83% percent in 2011 to 91%, says Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey. Claims staff have put in extra hours over the past three years, and VA doctors and nurses have stepped up medical examinations required to back disability claims, Hickey said. More than 362,000 claims in total await processing. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers)/The Associated Press (8/24), The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (8/24)
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Study: Female troops have same PTSD risk as males
Female troops are at equal risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder as their male counterparts, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. The study followed pairs of male and female troops deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and matched on a number of variables over an average of seven years. Researchers found that 6.7% of female troops and 6.1% of male troops with no prior history of PTSD developed the disorder. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (8/21)
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Veteran with ALS pushes DOD, VA to invest in research
Navy veteran Lt. Cmdr. Matt Bellina was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 30 after he started noticing coordination problems. He says the Ice Bucket Challenge inspired him to take action, and he has been pushing the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to acknowledge the benefits of funding research on a disease that affects thousands of veterans, a group that is twice as likely as the general population to be diagnosed with ALS. "[I]f you're diagnosing 1,000 veterans a year and they're living on average three years post-diagnosis, you're picking up a new billion dollar obligation every three years. And the research grant right now is only $7.5 million a year, so you look at the math on that and it's upside down," Bellina said. (8/19)
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Veterans Health AdministrationSponsored By
Study finds need for more awareness of VA's Blue Button data access
A study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that veterans need more education about how the Department of Veterans Affairs' Blue Button program can enable care coordination while allowing patients access to their health data. Researchers interviewed 34 VA patients and 19 providers from inside and outside the agency and concluded that patient and provider acceptance is key for health information exchange to succeed. Obstacles to successful information sharing within the VA include providers not being able to access patient-entered data and patients not knowing what to share or how to share it with providers, the study found. EHR Intelligence (8/26)
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National Health Care
Surgeon general aims to create a culture of prevention
Vivek Murthy
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy (JIM WATSON/Getty Images)
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he wants the U.S. to become "as good at preventing disease as we are at treating it" and also wants to "modernize and expand" how crucial health information is communicated to the public. Murthy intends to build partnerships with community leaders and planners, schools, businesses and religious groups to narrow health disparities and create safe, walkable communities. Modern Healthcare (tiered subscription model) (8/22)
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Health and Medical Research
Military tests drug for hearing loss
U.S. Army soldiers and officers are participating in a Phase III clinical trial of a drug to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. The experimental compound is based on a liquid form of d-methionine, a micronutrient found in cheese. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (8/21)
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