Friday, August 03, 2012

Easing A Burden For Vets?

Really. That's what the article says.

According to the July/August 2012 AARP bulletin, "the Department of Veterans Affairs is making it easier for vets to provide medical information supporting their disability claims. Veterans' medical care providers can now download any of 71 forms for specific conditions..."

WaitWhat? 71 forms? Good grief! I supposed allowing the forms to be downloaded is an easing, but really... 71? Checking out a few of them, they seem to run 4 to 8 pages each, and ask extremely detailed questions. They remind me of the questions asked by outsourced tech support who really have no clue what's going on, but want you to go away.

For arthritis for example, does the veteran have pain? Uh, no, we thought we'd tie up the medical system with stupid visits.  This question and checkbox is followed by "If yes, indicate affected joints (check all that apply):" and a detailed list of the joints available to be arthritic, incl a list for each of the left and right sides. This is followed by a substantial box "For all checked joints, describe involvement (brief summary). Also complete a questionnaire for each affected joint, if indicated."

The next question is "does the veteran have any limitation of joint movement attributable to this arthritic condition?" See sarcasm above. Again we have "If yes..." and a list of boxes to be checked for "all that apply" and a substantial box "For all checked joints, describe limitation of movement (brief summary). Also complete a questionnaire for each affected joint, if indicated."

This goes on for 5 pages,  and includes sections for "systemic involvement other than joints", "incapacitating and non-incapacitating exacerbations", "other pertinent findings, complications, conditions, signs and/or symptoms", "assistive devices", "diagnostic testing" and lots more. For each and every question, there is a box for details, and in some cases a requirement for additional questionnaires to be filled out.

Looking at all this, I realized the problem is not getting care to vets, or getting vets in to see a doctor. It's processing the damned paperwork.

If you want to see the list, go here: Disability Benefit Questionaire.


Anonymous said...

Some of those questions sound like stuff the doctors are supposed to fill out. But the forms are still too damn long. (And a separate effing form for each condition? Really? Are they being paid by a paper company?)

Lin Daniel said...

Hadn't thought of the "paid by a paper company" thing. Like. As the writers of Freakonomics said, "follow the incentives."

If you've ever wondered why reimbursement takes so long, it's 'cause everyone is waiting on the data entry department to read and transcribe doctors' handwriting.