The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has reached a telehealth milestone, achieving more than 1 million video telehealth visits in one fiscal year (FY18), a 19 percent increase in video telehealth visits over the prior year. From October 2017 through September 2018, Veterans received VA quality care during approximately 2.3 million episodes of telehealth care.
– About half (1,074,400) were video telehealth encounters, which allows real-time interaction between VA care teams and their Veterans in a clinic or at home.
– The other half of VA telehealth encounters were not real-time, interactive visits; instead, VA staff monitored, screened, assessed Veteran data (e.g., vital signs, sleep studies, etc.) or images (e.g., skin rash, eye disease, etc.) sent by other VA staff in another VA clinic, or sent by a Veteran or caregiver from home.
More than half (582,000) of those video encounters supported Veterans located in rural areas. Additionally, 105,300 of those 1 million-plus video visits were conducted using the VA Video Connect application on Veterans’ mobile devices or personal computers from their homes or locations of choice.
At more than 900 community-based outpatient facilities, clinicians and Veterans meet through these virtual, real-time visits, providing Veterans care in more than 50 specialties, ranging from mental health to rehabilitation.
“VA’s telehealth capabilities are bridging the care gap for many Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This technology gives Veterans access to the timely, quality care they deserve, without having to travel great distances to a VA facility. Time spent traveling is time away from Veterans’ jobs and families.”