Telehealth: A Better Way Than The Highway

Your call: drive hours to your nearest VA medical facility vs. click on a monitor from a closer Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.

Some Veterans live many miles from a VA medical center, making visits to the doctor an all-day event. Others with chronic conditions require constant monitoring, but opt to stay at home rather than in the hospital.

In both cases, VA's Telehealth provides greater access to health care through the use of telecommunications and videoconferencing. VA patients are finding Telehealth to be just what they need to receive personalized care from their VA medical center.

The Veterans Health Administration is the nation's leader in Telehealth technologies, which means doctors and patients can meet for health services without physically being in the same place.

Patricia Ryan, Associate Chief Consultant for VHA Telehealth Services notes that in 2011 over 380,000 Veterans used its clinic-based Telehealth services. She said another 100,000 patients nationwide were enrolled in VA's Home Telehealth program.

"With Telehealth, our Veterans can connect with VA specialists such as mental health, cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, rheumatology and urology," Ryan said.

"This is important, because a large percentage of our rural Veterans are advancing in age. They have chronic health conditions that require constant monitoring. If it wasn't for Telehealth, we'd be hard pressed to deliver the kind of day-to-day observation they require."

"If it wasn't for Telehealth, we'd be hard pressed to deliver the kind of day-to-day observation they require."

Clinical Video Telehealth gives patients and providers the opportunity to conduct several aspects of medical examinations that do not require in-person visits. Veterans are able to visit a VA clinic near their home, connect to medical centers through videoconferencing, and transfer medical information by way of specially-designed telecommunications equipment.

Teleservices - Care for Veterans in Rural Locations

Clinical Video Telehealth primary care is just one of the many ways in which Telehealth connects Veterans to health care services. VA provides services in telerehabilitation, teledermatology, telemental health and teleretinal imaging, and the list is growing.

Future plans are "to expand the size and scope of telehealth programs to focus on expanding access to care for Veterans in rural locations," said Ryan. "This will reduce the need for travel to specialist services, thus increasing the quality and timeliness of care."

United States Department of Veterans Affairs