Project Atlas creates better access to care for Veterans - Secretary's Center for Strategic Partnerships (SCSP)
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Secretary's Center for Strategic Partnerships (SCSP)


Project Atlas creates better access to care for Veterans

August 18, 2019

Philips and VFW representatives

VA recently teamed up with Philips, VFW, and the American Legion to provide equipment for remote telehealth exam rooms. The project, dubbed “Atlas,” will enable Veterans to conduct virtual appointments with VA care teams and specialists.

Philips made a pledge to VA several months ago to design the prototype rooms with input from Veterans and then donate the equipment for placement in halls for convenient access. The first of these rooms will be available at 10 locations in the coming months.

Philips provided a demonstration of its Project Atlas Remote Telehealth exam rooms to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, Dr. Leonie Heyworth and Dr. Kevin Galpin, during The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 120th National Convention, on July 23. The VFW is collaborating with VA and Philips to improve access to quality health care by providing 10 prototype remote VA Telehealth exam rooms for Veterans who live in rural areas.

“The VA has a mission to deliver best in class service to Veterans everywhere,” said Ms. Deborah Lafer Scher, Executive Advisor to the Secretary who leads the Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships. “We can be much more successful if we have strong and effective partnerships.”

VA and Philips began testing the Atlas prototypes in three locations: Eureka, Montana; Linesville, Pennsylvania; and Los Banos, California. The sites are remote, with Eureka located nine miles south of the Canadian border and 256 miles from the closest VA Medical Center. VA plans to bridge this geographical and digital divide with the power of telehealth.

“By connecting rural Veterans with help from partners like Philips, we will continue to exceed the care standards for our nation’s heroes,” Scher said. “Telehealth expansion is truly the next frontier for VA Healthcare.”

Approximately one third (nearly 5.2 million) of the Veterans that VA serves live in rural areas and often drive great distances to access VA care. Telehealth is vital to increasing virtual care with the use of the VA Video Connect application.

As one of the nation’s largest health care systems, VA uses a wide variety of technologies to ensure excellence in care delivery. New technologies are revolutionizing health care and VA is recognized as a world leader in the development and use of telehealth. Expanding VA Telehealth services are mission-critical to the future direction of how VA’s will care for Veterans.

In fact, VA reached a major milestone in fiscal year 2018 by delivering health care to more than 1-million video telehealth visits, which is a 19% increase in video telehealth visits over the prior year. VA remains dedicated to opening doors for Veterans to conveniently access their health care, regardless of their location across this country.

“Projects like this that have connectivity produce a therapeutic environment,” said Dr. Leoni Heyworth, VA Synchronous Telehealth Lead. “This is a space where the community can rally towards, and really build something meaningful.”

This article first appeared on the VAntage Point blog.