ECRI Launches SALUTE Program to Enhance Veteran Healthcare

ECRI

PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA — ECRI has introduced the SALUTE™ Program aimed at improving healthcare for veterans. The initiative seeks to address disparities in care that veterans may face when transitioning between different healthcare providers.

A National Health Statistics report revealed that only about half of the estimated 19 million U.S. veterans enrolled in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare in 2021. Many veterans turn to civilian healthcare providers who are often less prepared to handle military-related health issues. According to ECRI’s patient safety experts, this gap leaves these veterans at a higher risk of delayed diagnoses for serious physical or mental health conditions. Veterans who served after 9/11 are particularly vulnerable as they use VA healthcare less frequently than other veterans.

The SALUTE program aims to bridge this gap and foster stronger connections between veterans and their healthcare providers. “As a veteran who spent decades as a registered nurse, I’ve seen how difficult it can be to navigate the healthcare system and receive consistent, quality care that addresses veterans’ unique health risks,” said Shannon Davila, Executive Director of ECRI’s Total Systems Safety. Davila emphasized that clinicians often don’t know which of their patients are veterans, and many veterans fail to share their military background with their healthcare providers. Identifying veteran status is a crucial first step in ensuring these individuals receive the care they need.

A Pew research study found that one in five veterans have been seriously injured during their military service. While the PACT Act mandates VA health providers conduct regular toxic exposure screenings for every enrolled veteran, this requirement does not extend to civilian healthcare providers.

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ECRI’s Total System Safety (TSS) framework integrates clinical and safety operations to enhance patient care. This system encourages improvements in four key areas: leadership, governance, and safety cultures; patient and family partnerships; workforce safety and resilience; and agile learning systems.

The SALUTE Program offers a free toolkit, available for download on ECRI.org/SALUTE. This toolkit includes training for healthcare providers on effective communication and diagnostic safety, assessment checklists for veteran engagement, a white paper on equitable care for veterans, and a webinar detailing SALUTE resources. Some materials in the toolkit are adapted from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Toolkit for Engaging Patients to Improve Diagnostic Safety.

Additionally, ECRI has established the SALUTE Honor Roll for healthcare providers and organizations that plan to implement the program. Honor Roll members receive extra resources such as an Implementation Guide, a webinar series featuring leaders in veteran care, and live virtual learning sessions facilitated by safety experts. These sessions provide a platform for participants to share best practices and lessons learned.

With these initiatives, the SALUTE Program hopes to create a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to veteran healthcare, ensuring those who have served receive the quality care they deserve.

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