, FL — The North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (NF/SGVHS) has increased utilization of virtual care services by an average of 87 percent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. On average, the healthcare system is performing 580 virtual appointments each day.
The increase has been driven by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs response plan to COVID-19, and is being used across the nation as a way to provide continued access to care for Veterans.
Virtual care services available to Veterans include telephone or video appointments, the ability to request prescription refills using My HealtheVet or the Rx refill mobile app, text message reminders to help Veterans monitor symptoms, and My HealtheVet’s secure messaging to assist with answering nonurgent health related questions.
A virtual care option unique to the region is the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center. The center provides another avenue for Veterans who are seeking immediate virtual urgent care services. The center operates 24/7 and is staffed with providers such as nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians. Veterans can connect to the center by calling 1-877-741-3400 or by using the VA Health Chat App.
“One of the most notable increases in virtual care services is the rise in use of VA Video Connect. This has helped the healthcare system to seamlessly conduct outpatient care,” said NF/SGVHS Health System Director, David Isaacks. “In addition to individual appointment visits, Veterans can continue to receive other services such as psychotherapeutic and educational group programs using telehealth.”
According to Marjorie Lollie, NF/SGVHS Acting Connected Care Coordinator, after consulting with patients about how to continue to operate throughout the duration of the pandemic, it became clear that VA Video Connect was the preferred method for Veterans remaining engaged in their care.
Stress management, mind and body classes, and whole health coaching services have also experienced an increase in VA Video Connect appointments. NF/SGVHS also provides services such as audiology, oncology, and cardiology services through telehealth.
“During our COVID-19 pandemic response, many Veterans have had time to reflect on their lives and how to maintain quality health care. This is especially important for Veterans who live with ongoing disease management and has brought telehealth and other important VA programs to the forefront,” said Lollie. “Self-care and increasing one’s quality of life has become a priority and Veterans are utilizing telehealth services to become more involved in ensuring that their health care is uninterrupted during these challenging times. Over the past year, Veterans have discovered how easy using VA Video Connect is, enjoying the comforts and privacy of receiving quality health care from their home, no travel time to get to an appointment from a rural area, and less frustration with trying to find a parking spot at one of our facilities.”
For more information about VA Video Connect please visit: VA Video Connect | VA Mobile.