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Consortium benefits Wright-Patt, VA

Ryan Lillard, a VA patient referred to the Wright-Patterson Medical Center as part of the Buckeye Federal Healthcare Consortium, speaks with Dr. Craig Berg, a physician at WPMC, during a consultation recently. (U.S. Air Force photo/Brian Brackens)

Ryan Lillard, a VA patient referred to the Wright-Patterson Medical Center as part of the Buckeye Federal Healthcare Consortium, speaks with Dr. Craig Berg, a physician at WPMC, during a consultation recently. (U.S. Air Force photo/Brian Brackens)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Wright-Patterson Medical Center here generated more than $2 million in fiscal year 2015 as a result of the Buckeye Federal Healthcare Consortium master sharing agreement with regional Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

The mutually beneficial consortium allows the VA to refer patients to WPMC for specialty care consultation and treatment, including medical sub-specialty clinics and a wide range of surgical services. This expedites medical care for veterans and provides an additional source of revenue for WPMC. In addition, it allows providers at WPMC to see patients with more diverse needs.

Lt. Col. Thomas Lesnick, WPMC's Consortium lead and the Tricare Operations and Patient Administration flight commander at the 88th Medical Group, said that one of the biggest benefits of the consortium is that it helps support WPMC's mission of providing well-rounded medical professionals to combatant commanders.

"There are 74 medical treatment facilities in the Air Force and WPMC is one of eight Air Force medical service deployment platforms," said Lesnick. "The principal job of Wright-Patterson Medical Center is to provide ready medics for the combatant commanders to support our deployment requirements."

Lesnick also said that BFHC is important because it allows providers at WPMC to see serious injuries and illness in large numbers, which expands their skills and prepares them for war.

According to Lesnick, since the agreement was made official, the VA has referred hundreds of veterans to WPMC for specialty care. In addition, he said that the number of referrals does not take into account the length of care and number of medical appointments veterans have at WPMC.

"The best way to measure volume is by the number of interactions between a patient and the care team." said Lesnick. "We may have one VA patient that needs an orthopedic intervention -- let's say a total joint replacement -- that process may take up to 6-9 months."

Lesnick further explained that the process could involve multiple visits by the patient including an initial evaluation to determine the course of treatment, and a number of additional medical appointments and extended hospital stay if surgery is required. He went on to say that the WPMC is handling an average of 200 VA referred patient appointments a month. 

Ted Froats the public affairs officer for the Dayton VA Medical Center said that the Buckeye Consortium is beneficial to the VA.

"Our partnership with Wright-Patt Medical Center has greatly benefited our veterans and staff," said Froats. "Our veterans receive timely access to high quality care and excellent service, and the feedback we have received from those who received care at Wright-Patt has been overwhelmingly positive. For the VA, it helps us ensure our patients continue to receive timely care with a streamlined process and reduced cost - money we can then direct to other necessary expenses for our veterans."

Lesnick said that the agreement with the VA fills a crucial role. He explained that in a recent visit to WPMC, the Air Force Surgeon General, stated that working with the VA is the most important way to maintain clinical competency.