expected to be about $19.7 million a year less than operating both a new Navy hospital and the NCVAMC would have been.
The Lovell FHCC issued a press release when the center opened in October 2010, in which Patrick Sullivan, the director, was quoted as saying that taxpayers would be saving approximately $20 million annually from the integrated operation. He said that because of the integration, “staff members are able to care for a larger population of patients, and that by combining staffing and resources, patients are able to benefit from robust, state-of-the-art health care.”4
Patient satisfaction is one of the 15 measures of the success of the integration effort agreed to by the VA and the DoD. Samples of DoD and VA beneficiaries are surveyed separately and the results are updated monthly.
The DoD conducts a quarterly survey of TRICARE beneficiaries. In 2009, the VA adopted the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Plans and Systems survey, a nationally standardized tool. The Navy uses a survey of MTF users developed by the BUMED.
The TRICARE Management Activity has posted the results of its patient surveys for the years 2003–2011. In 2011, TRICARE users gave the Lovell FHCC more favorable ratings on access questions and less favorable ratings on other questions concerning physician-patient communication and quality of health care and health care providers, compared with all Navy users of TRICARE (Figure 4-8).
There was also a general drop in most ratings from 2010 to 2011, which was the first year of full integration of the Lovell FHCC. For example, the average score on a 100-point scale of patients surveyed for how well doctors communicate, which had increased from 84 in 2008 to 94 in 2010, fell to 81 in 2011 (Figure 4-9). Measures of access, such as getting care quickly and getting needed care, similarly increased until 2010, then declined from 80 to 76 and from 86 to 79, respectively (Figure 4-9). Other ratings also tended to drop in 2011, compared with 2010 (Figure 4-10). Whether these rating drops are a trend or reflect transitory effects of the first year of implementation—or are random—will not be known until several years of data are collected.
4 Jonathan Friedman, Historic VA/DoD integration accomplished. http://www.lovell.fhcc.va.gov/LOVELLFHCC/features/integration.asp (accessed September 13, 2012).