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Virtual Savings: Patient-Reported Time and Money Savings from a VA National Telehealth Tablet Initiative.

Jacobs JC, Hu J, Slightam C, Gregory A, Zulman DM. Virtual Savings: Patient-Reported Time and Money Savings from a VA National Telehealth Tablet Initiative. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association. 2020 Sep 1; 26(9):1178-1183.

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Virtual care holds promise for offering services to Veterans Affairs (VA) patients who have barriers to accessing care. In 2016, the VA began issuing video-enabled tablets to Veterans with geographic, clinical, and/or social barriers to in-person care. To complement a national evaluation of system-level implementation and effectiveness of these tablets, we sought to understand whether the VA-issued tablets generated money and/or time savings for patients. We distributed a survey to 2,120 Veterans who received tablets and administered a follow-up survey 3-6 months later. The final analysis included 594 and 399 patients who responded to questions about money and time savings, respectively. We used poststratification survey weighting methods to address potential selection and nonresponse bias. In multinomial logistic regressions and logistic regressions, we examined patient characteristics associated with reported money and time savings. A majority of survey respondents reported that the tablets saved them money (89%) and time (71%). Respondents were more likely to report monetary savings if they lived at a greater distance from the VA, if they experienced travel barriers, and if they did not have a mental health condition. Respondents were more likely to report time savings if they were < 45 or = 65 years of age, employed, and reported more overall technology experience. Findings may inform policy decisions regarding patient targeting and training as VA aims to expand its use of video telehealth technology.

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