Veterans Affairs Building Up Its Telehealth Capabilities
Shane, Leo,, III, The Exceptional Parent
Today, a veteran can see a specialist for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment without leaving the comfort of his home.
Veterans Affairs officials wish more would.
VA health leaders showed off a wide range of remote medical offerings (in July) at their first Connected Health Showcase, an event designed to highlight telehealth advances but also tout the department's place as a leader in cuttingedge health care delivery.
Dr. Robert Petzel, VA undersecretary for health, said the goal is to increase both outreach for veterans not in the system and access for patients already receiving care.
Programs launched in recent months include sharing electronic medical record access for veterans' home caregivers, prosthetic check-ups via online conferencing, and a host of counseling appointments available to veterans through their personal computers.
Petzel said one veteran currently receiving PTSD counseling now managed to significantly drop his stress level and improve his progress just by skipping the 45-minute drive to his therapist's office, thanks to recently available online sessions.
"This is going to be the way we do business," Petzel said. "This is the way medicine is going to be delivered."
About 1 million veterans already use some type of VA telehealth offering. Petzel said he hopes to boost that number to more than 4 million--about twothirds of veterans receiving some VA health care--in years to come.
It's both a financial and practical move by the department. For veterans in rural areas, the online health offerings eliminate the need for some multi-hour drives to the nearest VA centers. For the VA, it's a chance to reach those patients without building more facilities or relocating staff to those remote locations. …