Best Practices

VA Touts Telehealth Success Before House Panel

The VA conducted more than 2 million telehealth visits and is rolling out new technologies to ease access concerns.


In fiscal year (FY) 2015, VA conducted 2.14 million telehealth visits, reaching more than 677,000 veterans. Telehealth “remains a critical strategy in ensuring veterans can access health care when and where they need it,” Kevin Galpin, MD, acting executive director for telehealth at the VHA told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs earlier this month. “With the support of Congress, we have an opportunity to shape the future and ensure that VA is leveraging cutting-edge technology to provide convenient, accessible, high-quality care to all veterans.”

Related: Madhulika Agarwal on Telehealth at the VHA

Telemental health, in particular, also has seen significant growth. From 2002 through July 2, 2016, Galpin reported, more than 2 million telemental health visits have been provided to more than 389,400 unique veterans. And use of telehealth in the Greater Los Angeles Health Care System alone increased by 61,500, including more than 20,000 telehealth visits, which reached more than 6,000 veterans in southern California.

“For the past 10 years, I have studied many telehealth models and have been most impressed by the VA model as both exemplary and successful,” Herb Rogove, DO, FCCM, FACP, president and chief executive officer, C30 Telemedicine and former board member of the American Telemedicine Association, reported in a statement to the committee.

Related: Telejustice: Reaching Incarcerated Veterans via Telehealth

The VA is testing a new system that will allow veterans to access telehealth from their personal mobile device, smartphone, tablet, or computer. The VA Video Connect (VVC) is currently undergoing field testing for real-time access to VA care and will be fully encrypted to protect patient information. It will complement the VA’s current offerings of home telehealth, using VA-provided devices and store-and-forward telehealth, which allows users to asynchronously acquire and store clinical information (such as data, images, sound, and video) that then can be examined by a provider at another location for clinical evaluation.

Related: Patients Benefit From ICU Telemedicine

Other important telehealth developments include:

  • In FY 2015, more than 57,000 rehabilitation encounters for more than 33,000 unique veterans occurred using home telehealth.
  • Store-and-forward telehealth has been particularly successful for dermatologic and retinal diagnosis and triage.
  • The National Telemental Health Centers have provided access and consults to more than 4,600 veterans at more than 120 sites.
  • The Tele-Intensive Care program links VA intensive care units to a central monitoring hub.
  • Telesurgical consultation is being used to “enhance the diagnosis, the coordination of care, and the triage of surgical patients.”

Recommended Reading

Shared Medical Appointments for Glycemic Management in Rural Veterans
Federal Practitioner
Survival After Long-Term Residence in an Intensive Care Unit
Federal Practitioner
What is the VA? The Largest Educator of Health Care Professionals in the U.S.
Federal Practitioner
The Unique Value of Externships to Nursing Education and Health Care Organizations
Federal Practitioner
One More Comment on Expanding the Scope of Practice for VA Advanced Practice Nurses
Federal Practitioner

Related Articles