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Welcome to Iron Bow's TechSource, a blog about the issues facing the government and industry today and the technologies being adopted to help overcome them.

Department of Veterans Affairs Embraces Telehealth for Extended Care to Veterans

TechSource Editor

May 2, 2012  |  Telehealth

With 2012 being a pivotal election year, it seems no topic, political or not, is safe from a heated bi-partisan debate. One item not up for a debate however, has been an increased desire to make sure our men and women in uniform—past and present—are receiving the medical care they need and deserve.

We’re finally realizing that the traditional way of providing medical care to our veterans is not always the most effective way to serve them. In the past, medical providers have set up traditional brick-and-mortar sites with a “build it and they will come” mentality, expecting veterans to come to them. However, the reality is that veterans are often not able to reach the services they may need with ease.

In response, today’s collaboration solutions are enabling patients, doctors and medical facilities to provide care through emerging technologies such as video teleconferencing (VTC).

When Secretary Eric Shinseki began his tenure as head of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2009, he embraced the use of technology to improve patient services and immediately outlined a plan to improve America’s care of its men and women in uniform. One of the most innovative ways the VA is fulfilling this mission is through the use of telemedicine.

The Veteran Health Administration’s (VHA) Office of Telehealth Services is using telehealth to improve access to care and, in turn, improve the health of veterans. By using telemedicine, the VA is able to ensure patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

The VA is providing telemedicine solutions in three main ways. Real-Time Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) allows patients and doctors to communicate remotely using solutions like video teleconferencing. Thanks to CVT, veterans are able to avoid traveling to large, centralized VA hospitals or medical centers that can be located several hundred or even thousands of miles away and still receive the same specialized care.

For other patients where traveling to the local outpatient clinic is not convenient or possible for them, they have access to Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT) solutions that provides monitoring solutions within their own home. This is especially ideal for older veterans who have more difficulty  traveling and need more frequent attention to their medical needs.

Not every veteran, however, is located hundreds of miles away from a facility or is unable to travel. At times, technology simply offers a more convenient alternative to routine or unnecessary tasks.

Store-and-forward telehealth is an innovative use of technology that involves collecting and storing clinical information, which is then forwarded to an alternate location for review by a medical professional. In essence, a patient is able to take a picture of a problem, like a rash, and send it to their doctor for diagnosis. This technology prevents multiple, routine visits to a facility while still providing monitored care to the veteran patient.

Through these innovative solutions, veterans won’t sacrifice the medical attention they deserve merely because they are not located in a specific geographical location. These men and women faithfully served us, and now, thanks to telemedicine, the VA is proudly serving them.

To learn more about how Iron Bow Technologies is supporting the Department of Veteran Affairs, view this video.

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