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Increasing access to care - Houston VA begins new primary care virtual hub

VA conducts a virtual appointment.
Virtual hub providers at the Houston VA conduct a primary care appointment.

To increase access to care for Veterans, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center has established a new primary care virtual hub that offers telehealth appointments to Veterans assigned to outpatient clinics that may be facing temporary or long term staffing challenges.

Virtual hub providers offer care to Veterans at their local VA health care facilities as well as at home through telehealth technology. Telehealth technology allows VA to connect Veterans with providers remotely and improve access to health care.

“Telehealth is a valuable tool in modern health care,” said Dr. Archibold, chief, Houston VA primary care virtual hub. “It offers easier access for preventive care, follow-ups, remote patient monitoring and timely intervention that improves long-term health and chronic disease management.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, VA telehealth was rapidly expanded across the country. In 2019, Houston VA conducted more than 4,400 virtual video connect appointments across all specialty areas. In 2021, it grew to more than 109,000 appointments, a 2,349% increase.

“In the past if a VA provider left or was on extended leave, Veterans might have to wait for care or receive care in the community,” Dr. Syed Imam, medical director for Houston VA Connected Care. “Now, with telehealth, Veterans do not have to wait for care. Veterans can either come to the clinic or stay at home and get seen by a provider.”

There are five new providers in Houston’s primary care virtual hub who can provide virtual care to Veterans in any of Houston VA’s outpatient clinics that may be experiencing staffing shortages.  

Veterans can request a virtual appointment by contacting your health care team. If approved, Veterans can connect with a VA provider from anywhere via the VA Video Connect App, which will work on nearly any smart device with a camera and an internet connection.

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