Veterans' Use of Telehealth Services Is Up 17% in 2019

Samara Rosenfeld
NOVEMBER 25, 2019
military

Use of telehealth services by patients and physicians is on the rise. And use of such services by veterans is up 17% since last year, according to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) last week.

More than 900,000 veterans used VA telehealth services in 2019 for more than 2.6 million episodes of telehealth care, the agency reported.

“VA is committed to offering veterans the healthcare they deserve, whenever and wherever they need it,” said Robert Wilkie, J.D., acting secretary of the VA. “We want every veteran to have a choice to schedule an in-person, telephone or video visit with their providers depending on their preferences for healthcare delivery.”

Veterans face health issues following service, but that population struggles to get the appropriate care. But technology efforts like telehealth services can improve access.

The VA has a suite of applications including VA Video Connect which allows veterans to connect to their care teams through a video session. In 2019, use of the app increased 235%. More than 99,000 veterans used the app at home, while approximately two-thirds of the 294,000 VA Video Connect appointments were for tele-mental health visits.

A federal rule announced by the VA in 2018 allowed agency doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to use telehealth or virtual technology regardless of where the provider or veteran is located.

“This new rule is critical to VA’s ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ initiative,” said Wilkie. “Now that the rule has been finalized, VA providers and patients can start enjoying the full benefits of VA’s telehealth services.”

Accessing Telehealth through Local Stations (ATLAS) is a part of the Anywhere to Anywhere Initiative and aims to provide veterans with private spaces to have video appointments with VA providers.

By the end of next year, primary care and mental health providers will be able to deliver care to patients in-person and through a mobile or web-based device, the VA said.

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