Boyd Loehr, a primary care registered nurse with the VA San Diego Healthcare System, is finding remarkable success increasing Veteran access to quality care using VA’s digital health technologies.
Loehr recalled a recent episode where VA flagged a Veteran with abnormally high blood pressure readings. Loehr coordinated a Clinical Video Telehealth appointment with the patient’s interdisciplinary care team and was able to verify that the Veteran’s readings were actually lower than what had been initially reported.
By using video technology, Loehr spared the Veteran from traveling more than three hours in a VA van for an in-person appointment with his physician, which ultimately opened up an appointment for another Veteran who truly required in-person care.
Loehr frequently encourages the use of video telehealth to offer same-day appointments . When a Veteran requests a video appointment, Loehr gets in contact with them to schedule a convenient time and sends a link to rapidly connect to a private video teleconference using VA Video Connect.
“The convenience factor is key to the success of telehealth,” Loehr said. “Veterans get the attention they need almost immediately and that is especially rewarding.”
Telehealth technology ensures Veteran patients receive the right care at the right time and often in the comfort of their own home.
“Veterans like it because it’s almost like an old-fashioned home visit and for providers it’s like we are right there with them,” Loehr said.
Additionally, Loehr worked with Drs. Leonie Heyworth and Margaret Carrico to deploy a national, multi-site home blood pressure telehealth pilot study. The pilot study brings the nursing hypertension clinic visit to the Veteran, in their home, via VA Video Connect.
The success of the pilot study could prove beneficial to many Veterans. Loehr and other VA health care team members have noticed Veterans’ blood pressures are sometimes elevated at in-person clinic appointments, which may be attributed to their stress from having to travel to the VA medical facility.
“I think patients really appreciate not having to travel. That’s huge especially in a county like San Diego, where it can take 45 minutes to an hour to get somewhere, even in the urban corridor,” Loehr said.
Allowing Veterans to access care from their home, or wherever is most convenient, is at the core of the VA Telehealth Services success, as the program continues to expand with new capabilities like the VA Video Connect home hypertension pilot.
To learn more about VA’s Telehealth Services, visit https://www.telehealth.va.gov/.