Heroes Unseen: A Supply Chain Approach to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment at the Veterans Healthcare Administration

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2019

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“Post-traumatic stress disorder is an illness so terrible that it makes a veteran want to kill themselves.” - Gene Birdwell, co-founder of the PTSD Foundation of America and Founder of The Birdwell Foundation. On average, there are 123 Americans dying by suicide every day, 20 of whom are military veterans. Six out of the 20 military veterans had been receiving care from the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital system. This study takes a supply chain approach to reassess the PTSD treatment process in the VA. Numbers are assigned to each stage of the chain to identify failpoints or stages where veterans are dropping out of PTSD treatment. In addition, demand and supply factors are examined to interpret reasons for veteran disengagement from the chain. This research was conducted through a literature review, pulling studies from various academic journals and governmental organizations. According to this research, the supply chain of PTSD treatment has the most disengagement at the front end of the chain – enrolling in the VA healthcare system, caused by demand factors on the veteran-patient side. Another major failpoint in the chain is the large backorder (waiting time) for PTSD treatment, caused by several supply factors on the VA provider side. In order to improve PTSD treatment at the VA, measures must be implemented to mitigate factors that act as the largest barriers to treatment. Approaching improvement incentives through a supply chain perspective can help identify barriers against treatment on both the patient and provider side.

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