TED on the Move: Telehealth Provides Solutions to Veterans’ Healthcare Challenges
As Iron Bow’s TED (Telehealth Education Delivered) makes its way across the United States visiting hundreds of VA medical clinics and offices, we are taking the opportunity to talk with all of our TED partners about the many aspects of telehealth and how technology is evolving to help care teams, practitioners and specialists improve care, anywhere, at any time. NetApp recently provided their insight on telehealth trends, originally published on Government Data Download. We’ve included an excerpt of the piece below for our readers:
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to struggle with the challenges of providing healthcare to America’s veterans. When the story about the lengthy waiting times veterans experience when seeking medical care at a VA facilities came out two years ago, the department responded quickly with the Veterans Choice program. The Choice program, in which the VA has invested $10 billion, provided cards to veterans to get medical care outside the system if they “are more than 40 miles away from a VA facility, or they are going to have to wait longer than 30 days for a provider to see them.”
On paper this seemed like a simple solution to the backlog and an opportunity to provide veterans with much needed care, but recent reporting by National Public Radio (NPR) has shown that wait times for veterans has become worse, not better. A recent story by, NPR also revealed that “compared with this time last year, there are 70,000 more appointments that took vets at least a month to be seen.” While the VA has cited an increase in the number of veterans seeking healthcare, it would appear that delays are more than likely connected to the complexities of coordinating multiple providers.
However, what if there was a solution that allowed veterans to receive care within the VA system but did not rely on being able to get to a VA facility? What if instead of having the veteran travel to a VA hospital, veterans could use community-based clinics to access VA care?
This was the idea behind a groundbreaking telehealth vehicle named TED – Telehealth Education Delivered – which houses a demonstration facility within the actual vehicle. TED– which is essentially a doctor’s office on wheels – has been traveling to VA facilities around the country for more than a year now, demonstrating the capabilities of telemedicine in providing healthcare services for veterans in underserved and remote locations. From routine primary care to audiology, diabetic retinal screening, cardiology, dermatology, gerontology, and mental health services, telemedicine can provide a full suite of services without requiring veterans to travel to VA hospitals. In the case of many veterans, including those in North Dakota, this includes being able to receive some form of care, including follow-up appointments via telehealth services in their homes.
The telehealth vehicle was built by Iron Bow Technologies with several partner organizations, including NetApp®. While the medical devices that are used in the demonstrations and by the nurses and providers fortunate enough to already have access to telehealth are impressive, the backend technology that facilitates the solution is the unsung hero of any telehealth program.
With a 96 percent approval rating from veterans who have had the opportunity to use these services, telehealth looks like it will play an important role in the VA’s on-going support of America’s veterans.
To read the full article, visit Government Data Download.
Interested in seeing when TED will be at a VA facility in your town? The full schedule can be found here, but this week you can catch a demonstration at the VA Medical Centers in Walla Walla, WA and Boise, ID.