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New V.A. data sheds light on veterans' health care

New V.A. data sheds light on veterans' health care

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A quick heads up on some health data now available from the U.S. Department Veterans Affairs, pulled from the innards of a just released (and lengthy)  "open government" report. This should be of interest to journalists who have a V.A. medical facility in their community. (Here's a list of V.A. medical facilities in the United States.)

From the report:

We are working diligently to ensure that the online data sources open to the public include VA's high priority data sets, as well as information and insight into potential applications for the data. Data is available for download at http://www.data.gov/. Current data sets from VA on Data.gov include:

Patient Satisfaction Surveys: These statistics offer a snapshot of the quality of care provided at VA health care facilities. The report includes information about waiting times, staffing levels, infection rates, surgical volumes, quality measures, patient satisfaction, service availability and complexity, accreditation status, and patient safety. The data in this report have been drawn from multiple sources across VHA.

Veterans Benefits and Compensation: This dataset provides a count of the number of Veterans receiving disability compensation or pension payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The data is reported at the county level, by age group and by percent disability rating for each state plus recipients in Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico

Geographic Distribution of VA Expenditures: This report shows estimated VA expenditures for major programmatic areas by geographic area (state, county and congressional district). The major programmatic areas are: Compensation and Pension; Readjustment (Education) and Vocational Rehabilitation; Insurance; Construction; and Medical and Administrative.

One other tidbit from the report is that you can check out how stimulus money is being used at your local VA facility via an interactive map on Data.gov. I checked out the large VA medical center in Menlo Park, California and found that they're looking into using solar energy at the hospital as well as making a number of other improvements.

I haven't mucked around in the data yet, but I can think of any number of stories that could come out of these reports. What are your ideas? I hope you'll share them, and any stories you end up doing, in the comments below.

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