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Maybe it is now time for private health care facilities to step up their game!

A nationwide Medicare survey released this month found that veterans rated Veterans Affairs hospitals higher than private health care facilities in all 10 categories of patient satisfaction. The VA takes care of about 9 million veterans at 1,255 facilities – the nation’s largest integrated health care system.

This most recent survey, known as HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), showed that the VA beat out private facilities in all the categories surveyed, such as patient satisfaction, hospital cleanliness and communication with nurses and doctors.

As a part of the survey, Medicare awards star ratings from one star to five stars, with “more stars representing better quality care.” Based on patient surveys between July 2021 and June 2022, 72% of VA hospitals received four or five stars for Overall hospital rating compared to 48% of reporting non-VA hospitals.

Additionally, VA hospitals received a higher percentage of four or five star ratings than non-VA hospitals for Communication with doctors (87% vs. 48%), Communication with nurses (59% vs. 35%), Responsiveness of hospital staff (63% vs. 34%), Communication about medicines (80% vs. 38%), Cleanliness of the hospital environment (69% vs. 52%), Quietness of the hospital environment (49% vs. 38%), Discharge information (65% vs. 55%), Care transition (76% vs. 35%), and Willingness to recommend the hospital (76% vs. 52%). The results are drawn from Medicare’s Care Compare website.

“This offers among the first opportunities to directly compare us with our private sector counterparts, and we’re really happy with the results but we won’t be content until 100% of hospitals are pinging in the right ratings,” Dr. Shereef Elnahal, VA undersecretary for health. told NPR. who reported on this new survey.

VA also surveys Veterans in order to understand and improve the Veteran experience with VA. The VA Trust Report for the second quarter of fiscal year 2023 shows that nearly 90% of Veterans who get their care from VA trust VA for their care (based on 560,000 surveys). Additionally, more than 79% of Veterans trust VA overall, reflecting a 1.9% increase from the last quarter and a 24% increase since 2016.

And, despite many widely publicized scandals, VA health care has been consistently rated as competitive with private care in dozens of peer-reviewed articles.

The Journal of General Internal Medicine and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons published articles based on a systematic review of studies about VA health care, concluding VA health care is consistently as good as – or better than – non-VA health care.

The findings come from a national review of peer-reviewed studies that evaluated VA on quality, safety, access, patient experience, and comparative cost/efficiency. Of the 26 studies that looked at non-surgical care, 15 reported VA care was better than non-VA care and seven reported equal or mixed clinical quality outcomes. Of the 13 studies that looked at quality and safety in surgical care, 11 reported VA surgical care is comparable or better than non-VA care.

This year’s systematic review included studies published between 2015 and 2021. This is the third systematic review of studies comparing VA care to non-VA care, the most recent of which was published in 2017. Each of these systematic reviews has come to the same overarching conclusion: on average, VA care is better than or comparable to non-VA care in the domains of clinical quality and safety.