The Department of Veterans Affairs recently showcased their new telehealth system, a service which will allow thousands of veterans to consult with doctors and specialists regardless of location. About 80,000 vets took part in over 200,000 telehealth conferences with therapists and doctors last year. These appointments featured veterans receiving counseling and care for chronic conditions as well as mental health therapy.
These virtual doctor visits make a huge different in patient’s and doctor’s lives. One veteran was driving 45 minutes in heavy traffic to their therapy appointment whereupon arrival he would be upset and frustrated, resulting in an unproductive therapy session. Now that this patient is receiving care from home and can meet with his therapist via video connection he’s seeing much more significant developments.
These telehealth services are available for the VA to place in vet’s homes – equipment that safely monitor blood pressure, heart rate and more. Through a home computer or telephone, the data is transmitted to the VA for review. All of this technology makes the resources available to veterans who would otherwise not be able to participate at all or be inconvenienced. Many are unable to drive or have other mobility limitations. These telehealth resources have lowered veteran’s bed days by over 50% and admissions by 38%.
While the Veteran’s Association has 150 medical centers and over 14,000 outpatient clinics, just made the “2013 Most Wired” hospital system list. This was the first time the VA has made the list although they started using telepresence about 12 years ago to help patients monitor medication. Through these solutions they are improving the quality and effectiveness of the care they are giving their patients.