Veterans who are hundreds of miles away from the nearest VA hospital are now able to be “seen” by a VA physician without having to leave their home. Thanks to modern technology, many different types of exams and clinic visits can be done using real-time videoconferencing, saving patients long drives and long waits.
Since 2003, the VA has been using a state-of-the-art technology known as Telehealth. Use of this new-age service has resulted in more accessible healthcare for veterans everywhere. VA healthcare providers are now able to see, hear, and talk to patients through a TV screen, while allowing the same privacy and clinical standards as patients visiting one of their facilities in person.
Each VA has a Telehealth Coordinator who collaborates with participating healthcare providers in setting up videoconferencing clinics so that specialist clinicians (like dermatologists or surgeons) can see a veteran patient living in a remote area.
General Telehealth (CCGT) improves access and visits to healthcare provders for veterans in rural or underserved areas. By using video-conferencing technologies and diagnostic equipment, specialists from VA Medical Centers can treat patients in an outpatient clinic close to their home, avoiding travel and offering easier access to specialist care.
Home Telehealth (CCHT) is a service available to veteran patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and mental illness. Veterans with these illnesses can be monitored at home using telehealth technology, often delaying or preventing veterans from being admitted into long-term care facilities. This particular program provides services that include:
*Vital sign monitoring
*Medication management & adherence
*Socialization and caregiver support
For home telehealth, the type of home technology selected is individualized for each veteran, and a “Care Coordinator” is assigned to the patient. The care coordinator is usually a registered nurse or social worker who manages patients with the technology to meet their complex medical and social needs. This program helps keep veteran patients as independent as possible for as long as possible.
The cost of CCHT averages $1,600 per annum, and this has been compared with the $13,121 per annum for VHA’s home-based primary care service and $77,745 per annum for private nursing home care. Information on patient satisfaction with CCHT-based care is collected from patients every 3 months. Surveys in 2006 and 2007 found a mean satisfaction score of 86%.
Telehealth technologies are only one of several services that the VA provides at their PolyTrauma Rehab Centers located in Tampa FL, Minneapolis MN, Richmond VA, and Palo Alto CA. These particular sites help improve access to care for combat wounded veterans who have multiple injuries by arranging for them to receive their care closer to home.
For more info contact:
Care Coordination Services (11CC), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue N.W., Washington DC 20420
Read Related Article: The Veterans Health Administration’s CCHT Programme – mainstreamed home telehealth and care coordination