The next time you need to see your VA doctor, instead of going to the clinic, why not just stay home and use your smartphone or computer?
The Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) offers VA Video Connect virtual appointments. These appointments connect Veterans with their doctor using a secure video connection on a smartphone, computer or tablet.
When the VA care team schedules an appointment using VA Video Connect, Veterans receive an email with a link to join a virtual medical room and use the camera on their device.
“For working Veterans, it’s a real plus,” said Lynette Gunn, telehealth coordinator. “Depending on the reason for the visit, Veterans could schedule an appointment during their lunch break. They don’t have to take off time from work, and of course, they don’t have to drive to the clinic. It’s a time saver.”
Gunn is pictured above during a virtual appointment with a Veteran patient.
Family members can participate
To schedule a virtual appointment, the Veteran will first speak with their doctor, therapist or other provider about whether VA Video Connect is a good option.
“It’s agreed upon between the patient and the provider. Sometimes a patient may want a VA Video Connect and it’s not appropriate. Where it’s appropriate and the provider says okay, we schedule the appointment.”
Gunn said a great aspect of VA Video Connect is allowing family members in different states the opportunity to attend the virtual appointment.
“We can include up to four other people in the virtual medical room. They can participate in the Veteran’s care and not have to travel.”
While some Veterans may be skeptical about attending a virtual VA appointment on their smartphone, they won’t be for long.
“After an appointment or two, they absolutely love it,” she said. “Even our Veterans who were a little bit hesitant end up loving it.”
Partnering with Oklahoma Veteran Centers
EOVAHCS services currently using VA Video Connect include: chaplain service, Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (HUD-VASH) program, mental health, occupational therapy, pain clinic, palliative care, patient advocates, pharmacy, primary care, social work and wound care.
VA has also partnered with the Claremore and Talihina Veterans Centers, operated by the state of Oklahoma, to provide virtual appointments for Veterans.
“The Veteran Centers have a laptop on a cart and the staff take it from room to room,” said Gunn. “We email the Vet Center staff a link to start the virtual appointment. When appropriate, it prevents the Veteran from having to travel to the clinic.”
On personal computers and Android or Windows mobile devices, VA Video Connect operates as a web-based app and does not require an app download. For iOS (Apple) users, the app should be downloaded from the Apple App Store prior to the visit. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile do not count VA Video Connect data usage against their customers.
To test whether your device is compatible with VA Video Connect, visit the VA Video Connect test site. If you need technical assistance with VA Video Connect, call the National Telehealth Technology Help Desk at 1-866-651-3180 or 703-234-4483, Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time.
Do not use VA Video Connect for an emergency. If you need immediate assistance, call your local medical center or dial 911.
Nate Schaeffer is a public affairs specialist with the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System.