AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


The VA Using Telemedicine to Expand and Improve Care to Veterans

The Veterans Affairs Department (VA) is changing the way it delivers health care to more than 8 million veterans.  The bureaucracy that has been struggling recently to provide services to more than 500,000 new beneficiaries, and who have demonstrated persistent difficulties in getting new veterans signed up for benefits, appears to be ahead of most health care providers in using technology to improve patient care.  The VA is now deploying a host of applications to expand its reach and make it easier for veterans to get care, no matter where they live.

The new mobile apps are rapidly changing how veterans access the resources and information that is available to them by engaging caregivers outside of the traditional office visit. Veterans can receive care through a telehealth program which uses Scan-Echo, a technology used to gather multiple care givers together to recommend a particular treatment plan. These technologies are helping create a system of care without walls, a virtual system of care.  The VA is making a huge investment in telehealth technologies, spending $500 million in 2013 alone on telehealth services, which include telemental health, telehome health and clinical consultation by video. Robert Petzel, VA’s under secretary for health, says, “This is where medicine is going, the virtual care delivery system.”

The VA has nine different technologies currently in use or about to enter the pilot stage which can perform functions like renew medications, communicate with their provider, look at their medical record information, such as labs, progress notes and radiology reports. A patient can utilize their iPad or smart phone to reorder medications or obtain other medical information on the spot.

The app is focused on giving veterans the knowledge to make better decisions and improve their quality of life.  It features a set of questions about the patient’s health history that, when answered, produces a summarized, personalized assessment of their current health status, their risk of major diseases, and the impact of their various choices will have on their health. The assessment calculates the risk of developing major disease, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes so that the veteran can choose to change his or her lifestyle and recalculate the risks to see the impact those changes would have.  The VA developed the health living assessment program in response to both veterans’ and providers’ desire to have more tools.  Currently about 17 percent of all veterans are using telehealth services but it is estimated that 66 percent of all veterans could benefit from the technology services.


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