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Telehealth: Care and Convenience for Veterans

Doctor speaks with a woman via video teleconferencing on a desktop computer

Tele-Women’s Health: Female Veterans receive health care services through Telehealth

by Hans Petersen, VA staff writer
Monday, March 25, 2013

Butler, Pa. VA Offers Multiple Programs

Some Veterans live many miles from a VA medical center, making visits to the doctor an all day event. Others with chronic conditions require constant monitoring but opt to stay at home rather than in the hospital.

In both cases, VA’s Telehealth can provide greater access to health care through the use of telecommunications and videoconferencing. VA patients are finding Telehealth to be just what they need to receive personalized care from their VA medical center.

The Veterans Health Administration is the nation’s leader in Telehealth technologies, which means doctors and patients can meet for health services without physically being in the same place.

For instance, Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) gives patients and providers the opportunity to conduct several aspects of medical examinations that do not require in-person visits. Veterans are able to visit a VA clinic near their home, connect to medical centers through videoconferencing, and transfer medical information by way of specially-designed telecommunications equipment.

 …fantastic, fast, simple…much more convenient than conventional medicine. 

VA Butler Healthcare Offers Wide Variety of Telehealth Services

Some great examples of the benefits of telehealth are the many programs available at the VA Medical Center in Butler, Pa. What does this mean for the Veterans in that area? Less travel to Butler and Pittsburgh. VA is bringing health care closer to them.

According to Veteran Shannon Miller, “VA Butler’s Telehealth programs are fantastic, fast, simple, painless and much more convenient than conventional medicine. I personally benefited from tele-dermatology. It saved me precious time and money by cutting down trips to another facility, resulting in fast care and treatment. I recommend telehealth to every Veteran.” Miller was an Army Medic from 1996 to 1998.

Examples of the newest Clinical Video Telehealth programs available at VA Butler Healthcare represent what’s happening with telehealth across the country:

  • Tele-Amputee Clinic. VA Butler Healthcare, together with the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center (Clarksburg, W.V.) assist Veterans who have had limb amputations and need assistance with the fitting of, and issues related to their artificial limbs. Veterans residing in Clarksburg are seen via CVT at Butler instead of traveling to Pittsburgh.
  • Tele-Anticoagulation Program. This program assists Veterans receiving blood thinning products from VA at the Mercer and Lawrence Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs). New for 2013, this service will be available at all five of VA Butler’s CBOCs!
  • Tele-Women’s Health. Female Veterans living near VA’s five CBOCs are able to receive some of their women’s health care services (i.e., test results, appointment follow-ups, education, etc.) through telehealth instead of traveling to Butler or Pittsburgh for care.
  • Tele-Palliative Care. Veterans and caregivers have the opportunity to discuss Palliative Care topics and ask questions face-to-face at any of VA Butler’s CBOCs without traveling to the main facility in Butler.
  • Tele-Speech Therapy. Speech therapy services — diagnosis and treatment for speech, language, cognitive and swallowing disorders — are provided to Veterans living near the CBOCs, reducing travel to Butler and Pittsburgh for these services.

Nancy Kummer is VA Butler Healthcare’s Facility Telehealth Coordinator. She says, “Our rapidly growing and expanding Telehealth programs at VA Butler Healthcare allow us to provide our Veterans with better access to care by reducing the need for them to travel outside of their local communities. Even our not-so-tech-savvy Veterans have adapted to and benefit from our Telehealth programs. They are very appreciative when we are able to provide them care closer to their home and eliminate travel to VA Pittsburgh.”

Two of the newest telehealth programs VA Butler Healthcare is working on for 2013 include providing CVT health care services to Veterans at Tomorrow’s Hope, a transitional housing program for homeless Veterans, and coordinating Tele-Wheelchair Fitting with the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center.

Interested in a VA telehealth program? Visit www.telehealth.va.gov to learn more.