Having “access” to health care can mean many things. It can mean being physically close to a hospital, clinic, or other health care facility. It can mean that a health care facility provides services that address your specific needs. It can also mean that it’s easy to get and understand information related to your care.
Below are some of the ways VA is improving Veterans’ access to high quality health care, however it's defined.
VA recognizes the difficulty some Veterans may have in traveling to receive VA health care due to age, illness, disability, or location. In order to improve access for these Veterans, VA offers the Veterans Transportation Service (VTS) for all Veterans who are currently eligible for VA health care benefits and have a VA-authorized appointment.
VTS is currently available at forty-five sites and will be implemented at remaining locations by 2015. Visit the VTS website to see if transportation services are available in your area.
VA's Telehealth program allows patients to "meet" with doctors remotely through video teleconferencing. Telehealth makes it possible for Veteran patients to come to many of VA's outpatient clinics and connect to a specialist physician who may be in a hospital that is dozens, or hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Telehealth means that instead of having the cost and inconvenience of traveling by road, rail or air to see a specialist in the hospital, the specialist comes to you.
For Veterans who are unable to travel to a Telehealth-enabled clinic, VA provides Home Telehealth services. The Home Telehealth program gives home-bound Veterans more access to health care than ever. Special devices make it possible to check symptoms and measure vital signs from home and send the results to health care providers over regular telephone lines. Visit the VA Telehealth website to find out more.
Veterans are a diverse group of people with unique health care needs. VA has identified several sub-groups of Veterans and has developed specific programs aimed at studying, understanding, and improving their care. For example, women are the fastest growing group within the Veteran population. In order to provide more specialized care, VA created the Women Veterans Health Program. The program focuses on issues like comprehensive primary care, reproductive health, and women’s health education.
VA also has specialized resources for:
Mobile applications and websites are also increasing access to VA health care resources.
Websites like MyHealtheVet provide resources to help Veterans make health care decisions as well as keep track of appointments, medications and important health care information.
VA Mobile Health is creating applications that will improve data sharing to increase the value of communication and increasing health care provider efficiency and satisfaction. Access VA Apps that help you manage your health, connect with your care team and more! Additional Apps are coming soon, so check back regularly.
By using these new technologies, VA is maximizing health care resources and providing increased, flexible opportunities for Veteran patients to more closely engage with their care teams and better self-manage their own care.