Our military Veterans give their all for our country’s safety and prosperity, and they often return from duty with scars, both physical and emotional. Sadly, their suffering doesn’t end with their service, and in years past it has been extremely difficult for them to acquire the care that they need upon their return home. Inability to reach the nearest VA hospital or medical center, understaffing and an abundance of patients made efficient, consistent care almost impossible.
Fortunately, the Veterans Administration (VA) has taken steps to change all of that by implementing Telehealth services for their patients.
According to Dr. Sabrina Smith (va.gov), in 2016 alone 702,000 Veterans made 2.17 million telehealth appointments; 45% of those Veterans had otherwise limited access to VA healthcare. Luckily, to date more than half of US hospitals are beginning to use telehealth services.
But why is telehealth so important for Veterans? And how is it used?
The Veterans Administration website breaks down their telehealth model into three pieces:
- Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT): This facet includes interactive video conferencing for assessment and treatment. This facet can make use of over 50 clinical applications.
- Home Telehealth (HT): This facet refers to regular care, disease management, and in-home monitoring. HT reduces the need for clinic/ER trips for veterans in post-acute care situations, those suffering from chronic disease, and Veterans who are at risk of needing to be placed in long-term care facilities.
- Store & Forward Telehealth (SFT): This facet uses telehealth to gather, store and forward patient data to other providers for review and evaluation. This is a critical piece of the puzzle when keeping a patient’s team care plan current and accurate.
Simply stated, telehealth services ensure that Veterans are seen and cared for, consistently and effectively. A diabetes patient, for example, can easily use telehealth services to attend video appointments with an endocrinologist; have vitals remotely monitored by doctors; and communicate with pharmacists regarding any medication updates or changes.
We could say more, but we think the VA’s website sums it up perfectly:
“Telehealth services are mission-critical to the future direction of VA care to Veterans.”
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