President, VA secretary announce Veteran telehealth initiatives designed to provide greater access, care


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Today at the White House, President Trump and VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin announced three initiatives that will expand access to health care for Veterans across the country. Using telehealth technology and mobile applications, VA will connect with more Veterans to provide services where they live.

“This will significantly expand access to care for our Veterans, especially for those who need help in the area of mental health … and also in suicide prevention,” Trump said. “It will make a tremendous difference for the Veterans in rural locations.”

Through VA Telehealth VA can practice over 50 clinical specialties, from tele-dermatology to tele-intensive care, Shulkin explained. Many of the Veterans using telehealth live in rural areas or far away from their closest VA medical facility.

“VA already has the largest telehealth program in the country. Last year, we had 700,000 Veterans who got telehealth services through the VA,” Shulkin said.

Thursday’s announcement will expand VA’s Telehealth capability in three specific areas.

After working with the White House Office of American Innovation and the Department of Justice, Shulkin announced he will be issuing a regulation that explicitly authorizes VA providers, using telehealth technologies, to serve Veterans no matter where the provider or the Veteran is located in the country. The “Anywhere to Anywhere VA Health Care” initiative will empower VA to hire providers in major metropolitan areas, where there is an abundance of clinical services and connect them to better serve Veterans in rural communities that lack sufficient medical services.

VA plans to expand its telehealth services to support convenient, high-quality care for all Veterans. To do so, Shulkin announced VA is initiating the nationwide rollout of a new application called VA Video Connect. VA Video Connect provides a secure and web-enabled video service that makes it easy for Veterans to connect with their VA providers by video on their own mobile phones or personal computers. VA Video Connect is currently being used by more than 300 VA providers at 67 hospitals and their associated clinics. It will be rolled out to VA providers and Veterans across the country over the next year.

Shulkin also announced the nationwide roll-out of an application to make it easier to scheduled or change appointments with VA. The Veteran Appointment Request app, or VAR for short, is an application that makes it possible for Veterans to use their smartphone, tablet or computer to schedule or modify appointments at VA facilities. The VAR capability is currently available to Veterans at several locations nationwide. During its initial rollout, Veterans used the app to book more than 4,000 appointments with their providers.  Following today’s announcement, VA will continue to roll out the application nationwide – bringing the capability to all VA facilities and clinics.

“What we’re really doing is, we’re removing regulations that have prevented us from doing this.  We’re removing geography as a barrier so that we can speed up access to Veterans and really honor our commitment to them,” Shulkin said.

To find out more about VA’s telehealth program, visit https://www.telehealth.va.gov/. Watch an excerpt of the video of the announcement below or watch the full video here.

Author

Megan Moloney

— Megan joined VA in May 2013. She is the daughter, granddaughter and spouse of Army and Navy Veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Comments

  1. Dick Eugene Webb    

    Both sound like they may be great ideas if not abused by the government. I checked…they are not available from the App Store today.

    1. Paul De Young    

      I’m not sure whether or not a tele-health program is going to make the difference. I don’t know how many of my brother agree or disagree, but my statement to the past two Secretary’s stands….. The VA Medical System should represent the Gold Standard in Health Care in the United States of America. This should be accomplished not only by adequate funding, but with proper management, R&D and application of services. Here’s the long and short of it….. If we want steak for dinner, we have to pay for it…. This analogy applies to the levels of health care in this country both in the VA and out.

      1. KEtsitty    

        It may sound decent to get some funding from the Government, in reality, what about the veteran who definitely need the care is being ignored. for an example, I was doing mental health with my doctor when they decided to hold everything until after fiscal year and get reevaluated to start again.

    2. Katherine Holmes    

      God Bless President Trump. I have confidence that, if left unimpeded, this
      Administration will elevate the application of science and technology to advance improvement in the most important causes of all Americans, including Veteran’s healthcare. You better believe President
      Trump is going to act expeditiously to eliminate waste, ineptitude and corruption in this endeavor to serve Our Valiant Veterans, the greatest fighting force in the world today. Like a soldier, President Trump is already paying the price to fight the enemies of Our Republic; Traitors, Liars and Thieves within our gates and abroad. I am grateful to be led by a man who knows what it means to be proud to be An American. Thank you, President Trump.

  2. John Petrichella    

    How about a damn decent COLA raise for Veterans Compensation !!!

    1. William    

      You are 100% correct I have been fighting for more than 30%disability with attorneys since 2014 actually since 2011 on my own due to heart disease from agent orange and all you get is a runaround after 5 heaft attacks 4 heart attacks a stent and four heart CATHS and a pacemaker they still play games the VA changes the rules as they go they do not care the DOD USES THE VA AS SWEEPERS TO GET RID OF OLDERS VETS SO THEY DO NOT HAVE TO PAY US BENEFITS WE DESERVE WE ARE EXPENDABLE

  3. Kathleen O'Connor-Cooley    

    I am wondering how the VA can keep the technology of a telehealth system functioning when they can’t even keep the simple technology of an ID system working. I’ve been trying to get an ID card from The Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center and their system has been down for almost a month.

    1. William    

      What does that mean censorship?

  4. William Lueckel    

    It’s great to see the VA move forward. However there is more to be done. I go to the CBOC in Brunswick Georgia. There is presently no Optomitrist at the clinic, so the VA arranged a work order for me to see a local optomitrist to get a new prescription.That worked well. However when I sent the prescription to Dublin to get a new pair of glasses they asked me if I wanted a different frame than the one I presently have, I told them I would like to see what the choices were. I was then told that to do that I would have to come to Dublin (GA). That about a 4 hour drive from where I live. Why can’t the VA have a display of available frames at the CBOC in Brunswick or perhaps on line.?

    Thanks for your consideration

    William J. Lueckel Jr

    1. joe ukasik    

      contact the local VA for that suggestion. there should be a link on the that VA webpage for suggestions.

  5. Susan Daly    

    This is excellent news!

  6. Herbert Scott Jr    

    VA needs to cut the time it takes to view a claim. I have been waiting all most 10 years. Veterans have died waiting to be given the benefits we deserve. If you want to help ,review and make the decisions before the veteran dies.

    1. Gabor Szovati Jr    

      Have you contacted your congressman? I filed a claim in 2009, in 2013 received all but $774 because they were ensuring I was eligible for concurrent receipt and waited until last year to get my remaining balance after writing my congressman.

  7. Jim Remsburg    

    The Va doesn’t need more infrastructure. What the VA needs are more doctors\, nurses, and administration staff. But, here’s the biggie. Reduce the claim backlog. The main problem exists with administration and the “Code of Silence” that reinforces apathy and non-performance on the part of the workers who have no contact with the people they serve. Try to get a regional; office on the telephone or get them to answer an email. These people have no work ethic and, if you complain, your file is “lost” or goes to the bottom of the pile on their desk. They are there for the benefits and retirement, folks, and until this changes if will remain the top-heavy, over-regulated, impotent government pork-barrel and waste pile that it is today. We were promised a swamp-draining. Start with the VA..

    1. Karen Wolford    

      Wow. I agree with all-out of the comments; however when I was in Fayetteville, NC I participated in the Tele – health via inside the VA hospital. I would have rather been at home doing this call. So with that said if you see a psych it works well but for health care I have some concerns. I just pray they at least hire more medical professionals sooner than later.

      I now live in DMV and its worst sometimes, you can’t even get anyone to adder the appoinment line, when you do, they acct like you are bothering them…wth

  8. Maria Tye    

    The VA telehealrh clinic in Enterprise Oregon is in need of a good phlebotomist. Many veterans dont like to go there because when they go to get blood drawn they get stuck more than three times . That clinic is only open 2 or 3 days a week. The people that work there do not even accept or have the application for medical assistance. They tell veterans that they do not do any administrative services. They say they are undermanned and are very limited as to what services they can provide to the area. They are rude and abrupt with veterans. They need help in establishing their telehealth clinic as a viable resource to veterans in this remote frontier area.

  9. Norm Mattice    

    New dress, same old sow

  10. David Richardson    

    I thought that they were going to fix where we could go to any doctor or any Hospital of our choice. What happened to that option?

    1. John Foster    

      That is a “You can keep your health plan” canard for Veterans. Just as “Choice” is not a “choice” but just another poorly managed get-in-line-and wait program.

      Call the VA and deal with 3 to 5 minutes of menu choices which often loops or dead ends with “Thank you for your service, goodbye.” Wait Time A.

      Agree to go “Choice” and they will call you back. No one calls. Wait Time B.

      Now it is use an app. Which will be just another queue of frustration. Wait Time C.

      This is a solve the statistics problem solution. By dividing Problem A into two additional queues, wait time is shortened for Problem A.

      Total wait time is distributed but not necessarily shortened and maybe lengthened as frustration with Wait Time A will cause a shift to Wait Time B, or Wait Time C, at the END of the queue.

      Dividing Wait Time into multiple queues does not reduce Wait Time. It is a bureaucratic statistical answer to lousy service.

  11. Barbara Mullins    

    My son desperately needs surgery for a back injury that occurred while on active duty in 2010. He has been ignored and lied to since that time. He has done everything that they have asked and finally they allowed a voucher for outside help. They picked a surgeon that after 5 minutes told him NOTHING is wrong. The pain was so intense he was sweating. Back to square one. Back to a inefficient pain clinic. What the hell are they waiting for. My son is 31 years old. Must he end up in a wheel chair!!!
    I am at a complete loss. To go to the private sector it could cost up to $90000. He is on disability 100 percent. He wants to live a normal life.
    Help him…

    1. Guy G. Hopkins    

      No help but to let you know I hurt my back in the 70’s and they were going to discharge me on medical….stay on them!! DOCUMENT!

    2. Abe Nickelson    

      I had a friend with the same problems. He was retired and used a civilian health care. He had all of the test but they were unable to find the problem. After months of suffering and pain management, he finally went to a University health center and they found Lung cancer. I hope that this is not your son problem but I just wanted to pass that alone.

    3. Sharon McDonald Clark    

      This is a good start. I’ve used the Dallas VA Medical center and I felt that I received good treatment. The choice program is good but even when you go to an outside doctor they are limited as to what they can do for you.

  12. Barney McDonald    

    VA Health Care should be the gold standard, put aside all this political lip service, and the bottom line it’s not working, vets are dying everyday and not just from suicide, from neglect and waiting for care, the Choice Program was our best chance to have access to the care , and now they’re talking about doing away with it . other countries take care of their vets, look at Canada, Great Britain, and others.

  13. Arthur Boyson    

    I use VA West Roxbury Ma,Jamaica Plain,Brockton Ma. Audiology,psychology,pulmonary,dermatologist,and general practitioner. All flawless
    Ditto my buddies

    1. Mrs Kimberly J McMeans    

      Agreed. My husband is a Vet of the Vietnam war and is still having disability issue’s and can’t get the health care he needs. I am afraid that i will come home from work and he will be died from neglected from the Dr’s and or the fact that the Dr’s assume he is just another addict from the pills that they have prescribe him !!!

  14. David Paxton    

    Reading these comments breaks my heart.
    VA failures seem to be a combination of geography, competent management and availability of qualified personnel.
    I seem to be fortunate enough to live in the Tampa, Florida area. Our James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital does an outstanding job. The care is excellent and the staff knowledgeable, treating veterans with great respect. And this, the last I was informed, is while seeing 6,000 patients a day.

  15. samuel R. Ebel    

    Cheyenne VA hooked up a tele heath monitor to phone so I could send vitals to hospital. It was hacked into, and now have to monitor credit reports etc. Big mistake making SS numbers as service numbers.

  16. Mark Gray    

    Waiting 47 years for the VA / gov to FIX the errors in my records that their own records PROVE are in error, and thus fix my claim, and now I am in hospice soon to be gone but hey, perhaps my wife or kid will find justice someday. I doubt it but hey, one can still dream.

    1. Mark Gray    

      Odd how these comments have to be moderated. What are they afraid of? The REAL truth for once?

      1. Mark Gray    

        How can it take hours to moderate a comment? OH, the VA (gov) running this thing. I see.

  17. John Foster    

    The video is so typical of the VA. Click on the link and WAIT 37 minutes!

    You get about 12 minutes of new technology presentation (starts at minute 42). So Wonderful!

    Shulkin misses the KEY point. All this TeleBS only works if somebody actually there at the VA end. The Veteran’s complaint is that no one is there!

    Money is being spent to technology, handy mobile devices, technicians and more administrative people but where is the additional medical care?

  18. Phillip G Hess    

    I utilize the VA AOPC (Allentown Out Patient Clinic) in Pa. Audiology, Eye, and routinely have periodic blood work & see my doctor (Carlos Colon) for prescription refills, flu shots, etc.

    EVERY visit there is completely satisfying & their care, thoughtfulness of my conditions, medications & concerns never ceases to amaze me.

    Of course, I do not abuse my entitlements (50 % disability), & proudly stand w/them.

  19. Richard G McHenry    

    I read the various comments posted…from health to claims. But..what is going on with the appeal process? My attorney was working with a DRO on a long overdue appeal..and…then…the Review Officer got removed from the discussion! Now my appeal sits idle!! Very disappointing….

  20. Byra G Sackett    

    Thank you! You have done more in 6 months, then anyone has done for 60 years!

  21. Diann kemp    

    When are they going to take care of the caregivers? Compensation stops when the veteran dies, it can take months and months for the paperwork to be approved if ever for the spouse to get a compensation ,why ? How is she suppose to pay the bills while waiting. Why if the veteran was receiving a compensation they have all the paperwork they need except maybe a copy of the wedding certificate which could be faxed to them and then seemlessly a reduced check could arrive. Also 10 years 100 percent disabled for her to get anything does that seem fair to anyone. 5 years maybe or six just think of all the things she has given up taking care of her soldier and time away from work etc…

  22. J Green    

    I see all these people crying out for help, but I see no answers to their needs or results as to the complaints. How do we find out if anyone is listening or doing something about this? If nothing then all this site will accomplish is to offer a place to complain. Seem ridiculous.

  23. Robert Harrigan    

    Location, location, location!…I have been receiving care at the Nashville, TN. VAMC and can attest to the quality of care I have been given, including open-heart surgery for valve replacement. The nursing staff were all 100% committed to their job. In conversation with most of them in ICU, Cardiology, Dermatology and other areas I have been treated for, they were all long-time employees at this facility. They all had a common thread. They were happy at what they do because of a well managed facility. And yes, there is still room for improvement in some areas, I know it’s not the same at all facilities, and there are still vets that are not getting the level of care they should be getting. A well managed system/facility is a plus for all. Hopefully, the secretary of the VA is on track to make improvements throughout the entire system for all vets and their families to have a positive experience wherever/whenever they receive treatment.

  24. Charles McFall    

    They are liars, how can we trust anyone that will not do what they say they will and leave us oweing bills we aren’t supposed to have to pay?

    1. Jon Dannaway    

      I totally agree, How can we trust people that have always been lying ?

  25. Paul Myers    

    I made the mistake to opt for the choice program. It took 10 months for me to FINALLY get a prostate biopsy which turned out to be positive for the 2nd most aggressive cancer. That was caused by AGENT ORANGE. I’m sure you remember agent orange. It’s that stuff the government said they never used. Lying bunch of bastards.

  26. Senior Golfer    

    Great news.

    I know the VA & Congress is aware of how service combined ratings are made since the 40′. It would be nice to get the math right. Two service connected disabilities
    50% + 50% = 100% not 70% (VA math) as 80% + 70% = 150% (capped 100% the max) not 90%.(VA math).

    Why they did they do it this way in the 1940′ is a mystery. Why it is done this way today is because $$$ only.

  27. Guy G. Hopkins    

    Why can I not get a medical ID card? I had my picture taken and had my first appt completed. But when I ask about my ID card….I get this deer caught in the headlight look and told “well, I called NOLA and told them I was having trouble with the picture” to “well you need to call this other number, I have no idea” and you are going to spend millions on a skype program? My father died in a VA waiting room, I am a Nam Vet and as far as I can see, it is like visiting a used car dealer…alot of fast talk. I have emailed my Senator Scalise’s office numerous times and they make “congressional inquries” and its get them moving some. If you can not find my ID card or create a new one, how can I or my brothers and sister’s trust you for quality care? Or do I need to skype?

  28. Joseph Graham    

    Glad to see this is available but it would have been important to note that some VISN’s across the country are not up and running and therefore; you can’t download the VA Video Connect Application. I spent over an hour figuring out that Arizona is currently not available to participate in the program!

    The VA needs to get on the Regional Offices who are holding up claim and appeal processing. I’ve been battling the VA Regional Office in Arizona since 2005 and have not made any significant process in spite of VA Doctors and Psychiatrists prognosis of my conditions both medically and mentally. Oh; the closer you get to October of every year, the less the chances are of getting a successful processing of your claim or appeal. October is the end of the fiscal year and the time that “bonus” are configured. They pay bonus’ while Veterans die, commit suicide out of frustration and / or go into bankruptcy. Dr. Shulkin says that Veterans need care more than the granting of disability claims. My guess is that Dr. Shulkin hasn’t served in combat, been wounded, etc. If they didn’t intend to care for us why did they create the CFR38???????????????

    Joseph Graham/Vietnam Veteran

  29. Mr.Jan Tarwid    

    # 2225
    Thank you Mr. President
    For fulfilling your promise
    To take care of our veterans and
    Allow them to go to a doctor
    Of their choice.
    Doctor
    Who will not lead them to
    “dernie periode de vie”,
    And commit suicide.

    Mr. Jan Tarwid – Janwid.
    Polish American veteran.
    August. 04 / 2017

    P.S.1
    Question from Janwid.
    Does the new doctor bag
    Which secures lives of our president
    Have attachment do the same
    As it does attachment mentioned below.

    Sapphire
    optoelectronic
    blood pressure sensor
    collecting continuous beat to beat
    blood pressure readings from the wrist.
    * New pressure test without damage to the veins and aorta
    and does not lead to opioid epidemic – Janwid. .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gww7quakreo&feature=relmfu

    P.S.2
    # 1446
    “Heart disease and stroke has been America’s
    #1 cause of death for nearly a century”.
    Because
    Modern doctors
    Under the threat of losing jobs
    Use the methods of Dr. J. Mengele.

    The time will come, the doctors will rebel
    And use the methods of Dr. Mengele
    On their managers to send them to hell.

    Author Janwid. Dec.10/2015.

    ///

  30. Patricia Mraz    

    Contact President Trump with your concerns..He has a facebook page, a twitter page and also Trump.com or something like that…

  31. james kerwin    

    Harrisonburg, va clinic is superb. Martingsburg VAMC no so good. No difference seen in any VA services, VA stonewalling, or VA supporting Vets.
    VAMC ortho is politically protected by someone in high place—cut the cord.
    I suggest Vets are given authority to have a VET Committee for Excellent Care –with authority to RECommend firing and firing after the 3rd incident with any and all employees from the top to the bottom. That will get the attention of everyone in the VA system—Just because Vets work in VA hospitals does not ensure proper care–they get sucked in by the VA system and are no longer thinking as Vets for Vets–it’s about covering the ass of the VAMC’s around the country—
    A Vet Committee will most often operate for vets–they don’t get paid by the VAMC no one can fire them.. Only the committee

  32. Anthony Paul Furillo    

    Does this service apply to behavioral health issues dealing with PTSD?

  33. Richard Irish    

    Since I am more of a traditionalist with respect to personal office visits, I am not a fan of telehealth.  Not sure that it would even save VA healthcare providers’ time.     Just too cold, impersonal and hands-off for me to be a supporter.
    by the way, who would check my blood pressure or listen to my lungs during a Telehealth visit?  I thought telehealth would be more appropriate for visitors for inmates in jail.

  34. Virginia Eichstadt    

    My Husband is a Vietnam Veteran, his hearing was damaged while over there. My Husband and I met in Dec of 2012. We lived together from Feb. 2013 til June 2014 when we married. My point is his hearing now is so much worse, but the VA says not. I live with my husband and he has went from the TV volume being on 60 to 80 and now on 85 with caption on. He is afraid of he tried to fight the case that they will take his 50% pay from him. Please help

  35. Luis Juarez    

    My disability ratings are 50%, 30% and 20% yet the VA is giving me 70%??????

  36. Ishkabibble    

    I was the first to operate the Telehealth System in 2008 at the Santa Rosa VA. I was the main one to schedule and utilize until the powers that be (though illegal) took me away from it as I did not have a bachelor’s degree. This was in 2013. The replacement barely showed up and used it not for our vets but for his own use. He broke the system many times ehile under my care the system worked. My supervisor (also an illegal) woild never allow me to operate it, unless the union got involved. The San Francisco VA eventually got into trouble from Washington after leaked emails, reports exposed the truth of what was happening.

    Telehealth was and can be a plus but only if you have people who CARE about our heroes and not allowing narcisstic, burned-out clinicians near it.

  37. Ralph Reed    

    Please help those of us that have to use the Dental Clinics around the VA. We are made to believe from the dental staffs that we should not complain about dental care because it is “FREE”. This is far from the truth….. I like others that use Dental have EARNED the right to use dental services. PLEASE help us veterans that use this service.

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