– For the first time ever, U.S. Veterans will be able to receive U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) health services at their local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or American Legion (Legion) Posts through a multi-site pilot program dubbed ATLAS (Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations).
– This first-of-its-kind telehealth initiative is the product of an alliance between the VFW, VA, Philips and The American Legion, which allows Veterans to conduct virtual appointments with their VA providers without having to travel to a distant VA regional medical facility or outpatient clinic.
Today, Philips announced a partnership with the U.S. Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion (AL) to offer veterans living in remote areas access to healthcare services close to their homes via virtual appointments. This first-of-its-kind telehealth initiative, dubbed ATLAS (Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations), will allow veterans to receive VA health services at their local VFW or AL posts without having to travel far distances to VA regional medical facilities or outpatient clinics.
Removing Geographic & Digital Barriers for Veterans Via Telehealth
In May 2018, the VA announced the passage of the MISSION Act, which allows VA doctors, nurses and other health care providers to administer care using telehealth technologies, regardless of location of the provider or the Veteran. One-third of our nation’s veterans live in remote areas, creating obstacles to care delivery such as long travel times to facilities or limited internet connection. Many rural veterans also live with multiple chronic, service-related disabilities, further hindering their ability to easily access healthcare.
ATLAS to Use Philips Telehealth Patient Monitoring Solutions
ATLAS will use Philips telehealth patient monitoring solutions including Wi-Fi-enabled electronic scales, blood pressure cuffs and thermometers, as well as glucose meters and pulse oximeters linked to a secure, high-speed Internet line. The sites will offer services that do not require hands-on exams but may include primary care, mental health counseling, clinical pharmacy, nutrition services, and social work.
This collaboration will remove geographic and digital barriers to healthcare for veterans, and make common healthcare services, from primary care to mental health counseling, more attainable and affordable than ever before.
First Pilot Launched in Montana
The program launched its first installation at VFW Post 6786 in Eureka, Montana. Other initial sites will be in Linesville, Pennsylvania at VFW Post 7842 and Los Banos, California at VFW Post 2487/American Legion Post 166. The first American Legion site will be in Springfield, VA at Post 176.
VFW Post 6786 in downtown Eureka addresses the access challenge for local Veterans,” said VFW National Commander William J. “Doc” Schmitz. “Sitting inside state-of-the-art, private, Internet-connected health care pods developed and donated by Philips, Veterans will benefit from virtual appointments in familiar surroundings conducted by VA medical professionals. This removes geographic and digital barriers and is the latest way today’s VFW Posts are innovating to address the needs of our Veterans and their families.”
The VFW and The American Legion are among the most prominent Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) in the country with a combined membership of more than 3 million. ATLAS leverages the ubiquity of these Posts and extends the VA’s “Anywhere to Anywhere” initiative to bring access to VA care to Veterans who live in remote or rural areas.
To improve access to care, the VA has become a leader in developing telehealth services delivering more than 1.3 million video telehealth visits to more than 485,000 Veterans since the VA Video Connect app was launched in 2017. In fiscal year 2019, VA telehealth provided over 2.5 million episodes of care to Veterans.