For Veterans who have a health problem like diabetes, chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, getting treatment can be complex and inconvenient.
For some, especially older Veterans, conditions like these can make it difficult for them to remain living independently in their own home and make it necessary for them to go into a nursing home where their symptoms and vital signs (pulse, weight, temperature etc) can be checked frequently. Having this information means physicians and nurses can change medications or other treatments and prevent serious health problems from developing.
Now there are new technologies that make it possible to check on symptoms and measure vital signs in the home. Special devices (home telehealth) can do this and are easy to use. Home telehealth can connect a Veteran to a VA hospital from home using regular telephone lines.
VA has found that not every patient is suitable for this kind of care. But, for those that are, Home Telehealth can help them to remain at home and live independently.
If you or a loved one is a patient that VA has assessed for Home Telehealth and determined this is an appropriate way to get care, then VA will provide a home telehealth device that best meets the Veterans needs.
The most common home telehealth devices VA uses are ones that make it possible to connect a Veteran patient to VA hospital using video technology and messaging devices that collect information about symptoms and vital signs from the comfort of a Veteran patients own home (place of residence).
A care coordinator (usually a nurse or social worker) is the point of contact for a patient using a home telehealth device with a VA hospital. Care coordinators are able to link with the physician to arrange treatment changes, set-up clinic appointments or arrange hospital admissions - whatever is necessary to ensure that Veterans get the right treatment in the right place at the right time. Training is provided on how to use the home telehealth device and this training usually takes place in the Veterans home or local clinic.
Many thousands of Veteran patients are regularly using home telehealth devices to coordinate their care. VA finds that patients easily learn how to use these devices and are highly satisfied with Home Telehealth.
Some of the home telehealth devices that connect veteran patients with their care coordinator can also provide information about health, the conditions and the various treatments that may be offered. These home telehealth devices can make it possible to become more actively involved in the actual medical care. A care coordinator will work with the Veteran to help them learn ways to self-manage their care needs.