The Department of Veterans Affairs is revolutionizing the use of new health care technology to deliver convenient, accessible health care to Veterans. VA’s TeleHealth service is mission critical to the future direction of VA, and utilizes health informatics, disease management and telehealth technologies to care for and provide case management. More importantly, it helps Veterans to continue to live independently; in their own homes, local communities and stay out of the hospital.
“I’ve had nothing but the best experience. I think they saved my life.”
“Technology is the tool the Veteran utilizes through TeleHealth Service to interact with their care coordinator, but the real key component to the success of the program is case management and personal connection,” says Catherine Buck, National Home Telehealth Lead and Clinical Nurse Analyst. “The Veteran establishes a relationship with a go-to person that is essential for the Veteran’s overall health care plan and personal health goals.”
Ultimately, telehealth changes the relationship between patients and their health care team. Higher levels of patient satisfaction and positive clinical outcomes can attest to this.
“VA providers and patients discuss and decide together which telehealth care services are available in their location and clinically appropriate for the patient, said Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s Virtual Care Program Coordinator,” Rod Miles.
There are many telehealth resources that are used to deliver care to a patient. However, VA’s Video on Demand has been an important resource for providers and patients at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System for the past three years.
“Veterans don’t need to be at a clinic to speak with their provider thanks to VA Video on Demand. Providers refer appropriate patients to participate in this program. This telehealth tool is a secure, web-enabled video service, connecting Veterans with their providers using their personal mobile phones or computers, Miles said.
U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran David Miller has been utilizing VA TeleHealth services to assist with the treatment of his diabetes. “I’ve had nothing but the best experience. I think they saved my life. They made dealing with my diabetes much easier. They even gave me a Medtronic device which measures my blood pressure, blood sugar and weight. All I need to do is send my coordinator my results before bed. Telehealth has really helped me to stay on track.”
Another benefit Mr. Miller receives from receiving telehealth care is that he is
able to communicate with a pharmacist every couple of weeks to ensure that his medications stay up-to-date with his changing medical needs.
“The overall coordination of my care is more convenient. A pharmacist communicates with me about every three weeks. If there is a need to change what I’m taking, we do it. It makes me feel safe. I’m also about an hour and a half away from the closest VA clinic so; it helps to minimize the number of trips I have to take to see my providers.
“I’d recommend this program to absolutely anyone. They really go above and beyond in making sure that I am cared for and that my health care needs are met. They really know what they’re doing,” Miller said.
About the author: Melanie L. Thomas, MBA, is a public affairs specialist for the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System