For the VA, backlog is nearly a thing of the past

March 31st, 2015 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Business Process Automation | Workflow

The Veterans Affairs Department is cutting through backlog like scissors after digitzing the disability claims process to make it more efficient. 

In fact the efficiency of a paperless claims process has helped the VA reduce backlog by 67 percent over the past two years, a recent press release noted. The removal of paper has made filing claims much easier for veterans, and reduced backend work for the agency, which has cut the time it takes to handle disability claims. An online content management system allows veterans to log-in, access information and control their claims from their home computers. 

The numbers don't lie
Automation and enhanced processing has helped the VA reduce backlog from 611,073 claims in March 2013 to 193,662 now. The 67 percent reduction is due to the speed with which the VA can process claims, as well as better decision making capabilities that came with new technologies. 

"Make no mistake, we're not slowing down short of the finish line," Allison Hickey, under secretary for benefits, explained in a press release. "Our goal is to eliminate the claims backlog by the end of 2015 – meaning all Veterans will receive timely and accurate decisions on their disability claims."

Hickey's confidence in the VA's ability to eliminate backlog isn't lacking, and that assuredness probably stems from the efficacy of the agency's efforts to get through unchecked disability claims thus far. Just a few years ago claims processors handled about 5,000 tons of paper annually. That's enough paper to supply 200 Empire State Buildings. Since then, of course, paper usage, and subsequently claims backlog, has reduced significantly, thanks to the introduction of automation and improved processing. 

The improvements thus far, and what's to come
Now, the VA utilizes an advanced system that allows for claims to be submitted and processed, and benefits delivered, all online. Other efforts have also been made to enhance claims processing, including extra hours worked on weekends and evenings and improved training and quality assurance programs.

With the progress made thus far, it isn't unforeseeable at all to see the VA finalize it's backlog reduction efforts this year. The continued advantages of electronic claims processing won't be too bad either. 

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