Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D In Progress

December 2018

In This Issue: Advances in Telehealth
» Table of Contents


VA Telehealth

Overview


The Anywhere to Anywhere VA Health Care Initiative, established in May 2018, enables VA-sanctioned healthcare providers to offer telehealth treatment to Veterans no matter where either the Veteran or the provider is located – a service that is particularly important for Veterans living in rural states. On December 6, 2018, VA hosted the Anywhere to Anywhere, Together Summit at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington, DC, with the nation’s top industry, government, and non-profit leaders to increase connectivity and access to telemedicine for Veterans. Also, in October 2018, the Enhancing Veterans Experience with Telehealth Services (eVETS) Act was introduced. This would create a demonstration program to give Veterans with mental health issues – in 10 states – access to at least a dozen virtual care sessions with VA providers. This bill would also allow Veterans to choose between two evidence-based treatments: prolonged exposure therapy or cognitive processing therapy.

VA uses a wide variety of technologies to ensure excellence in care delivery, including:

  • Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) uses real-time interactive video conferencing to assess, treat, and provide care to patients remotely. CVT encompasses more than 50 clinical applications in VA such as specialty and primary care.
  • Home Telehealth (HT) applies care and case management principles to coordinate care using health informatics, disease management, and technologies such as in-home and mobile-monitoring messaging and/or video technologies.
  • Store and Forward Telehealth (SFT) is the use of technologies to acquire and store clinical information (i.e., data, image, sound and video) that is then forwarded to or retrieved by a provider at another location for clinical evaluation.

In 2016, VA provided care to more than 700,000 Veterans via these three telehealth modalities, with 45% of these Veterans living in rural areas.1

HSR&D is conducting numerous studies and initiatives on telehealth, including the Virtual Specialty Care QUERI program’s work with operational partners to determine how emerging technologies can be optimally incorporated into clinical interventions to better serve Veterans living in rural settings. The QUERI eHealth National Partnered Evaluation Initiative (QUERI eHealth) works to demonstrate the impact of VA connected-care technologies on important outcomes, including Veterans’ perceptions of access and experience of care. Recently, eHealth QUERI launched a novel effort to develop and maintain a cohort of nearly 3,000 Veterans from 14 different VA sites across the country, who are willing to provide feedback on the latest VA connected-care technologies to improve their usability, adoption, and meaningful integration into practice. The Precision Monitoring to Transform Care (PRISM) QUERI National Program uses existing data from VA’s electronic health records to implement actionable, personalized, and timely monitoring in order to transform the quality and outcomes of care for Veterans across multiple healthcare settings. PRISM QUERI investigators are evaluating the implementation strategy and impact of the National Evaluation of the VHA TeleStroke Program on patients, providers, and the VA healthcare systems. And QUERI’s Making Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Available at CBOCs Using Telemedicine is working with several operations partners, including VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and the VISN 1 Telemental Health Regional Hub, to develop and pilot-test materials and procedures that facilitate MAT delivery via telemedicine to Veterans at community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) across the VA New England Healthcare System.

For more about individual, ongoing HSR&D studies in this area, read on.

References

  1. VA Telehealth Services Fact Sheet. Office of Public Affairs Media Relations. Washington, DC.

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