Veterans Health Administration reorganizes

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The new chief executive officer of the Veterans Health Administration has approved a reorganization plan that streamlines the agency responsible for delivering health care to veterans.

In a two-page letter accompanied by a reorganization chart, Dr. Jonathan Perlin outlines eight strategies for VHA’s future direction and names Dr. Michael Kussman as his chief deputy. He also appoints three new executives to help fulfill his plan.

As part of the reorganization, Dr. Robert Kolodner, VHA’s chief health informatics officer, and Jimmy Norris, the agency’s chief financial officer, will report to Kussman.

Perlin said the changes will helping the agency refocus its “mission to provide excellence in health care quality and value in the 21st century.” The organizational chart was signed by VA secretary James Nicholson.

“It is appropriate to ensure that VHA’s organizational structure is properly configured to facilitate the activities necessary to fulfill our mission and achieve our vision,” Perlin wrote in the letter.

In a telephone interview, Kolodner described the changes as "good news" because it reflects "the desire to have the information tech activities and discussions in the health arena be more closely tied to the activities and discussions within the veterans health administration."

He added that the "overall organization is meant to align us with some of the new priorities and the need to operate efficiently in alignment with overall strategies that have been laid out."

Robert McFarland, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ chief information officer, said in a telephone interview that “it was something [Dr. Perlin] felt he needed to do. I applaud him for looking at better ways to manage.”

McFarland’s office is reviewing a consultant’s report and recommendations for reorganizing the information technology shop at the VA. He said he has not made a decision yet about whether to reshape the office and declined to release the report.

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