The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced that video telehealth appointments to Veterans’ homes increased over 1000%, as Veterans increasingly chose virtual care through VA Video Connect during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Oklahoma City, OK, the OKC VA Health Care System has conducted over 8,400 VA Video Connect telehealth appointments between January 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020.
VA Video Connect allows Veterans and their caregivers to meet virtually with their VA care teams on any computer, tablet, or mobile device with an internet connection.
“Particularly with the VA Video Connect (VVC), Veterans often express their gratefulness for our ability to provide video appointments,” said Darlene Clark, Telehealth Clinic Technician. “Many are concerned about leaving their homes or having to travel for any length of time.”
As in-person interactions decreased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, VA Video Connect supported Veterans’ abilities to continue care and remain safely at home. Usage of video to home services has been increasing since mid-March with peak usage reaching over 29,000 appointments per day.
“It is reassuring for them to know they can still be ‘connected’ with their care team or specialty services in this manner although everything else is so uncertain,” Clark said.
The increase at The OKC VA Health Care System represents an almost 1690% increase from January 1st through June 30th of 2020. Other telehealth milestones from the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System include:
- Over 10,000 unique patients using some form of telehealth (10,218 unique patients)
- Over 55 different clinical specialties being offered though Clinical Video telehealth
- Nine different Store and Forward specialties offered. Store and Forward specialties are collecting clinical information and sending it electronically to another site for evaluation. The benefits from this system include improving efficiency and convenience, no need for the Veterans to travel, waiting times reduced and second opinions can be attained quickly. Sometimes this information is gathered directly from the patient at home. OKC VAHCS has provided this service more than any other facility in the VISN
VA is also taking strides to bridge the digital divide for Veterans who lack the technology or broadband internet connectivity required to participate in VA telehealth services. At the national level, VA is working with strategic partners, through the VA Secretary’s Center of Strategic Partnerships, to increase access to the technology that Veterans need to connect with their VA health care team virtually.
“As we near the three-year anniversary of the launch of VA Video Connect, even during these challenging times, VA has and continues to maintain access to high-quality health care for Veterans,” said Wade Vlosich, Director of the OKC VAHCS “As the service becomes more popular, VA remains committed to providing a seamless user experience to ensure Veterans have access to care where and when they need it.”
Read more about VA Video Connect. For information about VA’s telehealth services visit connectedcare.va.gov.