Real-Time Clinic Based Video Telehealth
Traditionally, veterans seeking health care traveled to the VA hospital or medical center. In order to increase veterans' access to health care, VA has so far created over 700 hundred of community-based outpatient clinics to bring VA care closer to home for veterans. However, the nearby clinics may not have all of the specialty services and staff found at the regional medical center. For example, if specialty care is needed from a cardiologist (heart physician), neurologist (nervous diseases specialist), surgeon for follow-up after surgery, or psychiatrist for mental health care, the clinic provider may need to refer the veteran to the VA medical center.
For many veterans travel to the medical center can be a very complicated and sometimes arduous task, particularly if the veteran lives in a very remote or rural area, an area with sometimes severe weather, or even an urban area where congestion and traffic makes travel difficult. Some injuries such as traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury further complicate travel. Travel time is time away from the veteran's work or family.
VA is now recognized as one of the world leaders in this new area of health care. Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) uses these telehealth technologies to make diagnoses, manage care, perform check-ups, and actually provide care.
Linking the four Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers (PRC’s) in Minneapolis, Palo Alto, Richmond and Tampa with each other and the 17 Polytrauma Network Sites (PNS’s) with the express intent of improving access to care for combat wounded. Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers bring together a critical mass of relevant clinical expertise to assess, treat and rehabilitate the physical, mental and psycho-social problems that accompany polytrauma.
VHA uses information technology and telecommunication modalities to augment care provided by its Mental Health clinicians to veterans throughout the United States. VHA Telemental Health is the delivery of services using virtual linkages between VHA patients and Mental Health providers separated by distance or time.
The delivery of services using virtual linkages like using video teleconferencing to link a speech pathologist located at the urban VA medical center with a post-stroke veteran patient located at the local VA community-based outpatient clinic, or using home telehealth technologies to connect with veterans at home to monitor their functional status and equipment needs.
The main need VHA is meeting via telesurgery is not for operative surgery support but for specialist consultation to remote sites. The diagnosis of surgical conditions, the coordination of care for many surgical conditions and the triage of surgical patients can be favorably influenced by the availability of telesurgical consultation. Additionally, the use of telehealth can provide intra-operative consultation, patient and staff education as well as pre- and post-operative assessment.
These video technologies make it possible for veteran patients to come to many of VA's community-based outpatient clinics and connect to a specialist physician or other practitioner who may be in a hospital that is dozens, or hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
Clinical Video Telehealth means that instead of having the cost and inconvenience of traveling by road, rail or air to see a specialist in the hospital the specialist comes to you. If veteran's need medication prescriptions changed or if the veteran needs to see the specialist in person, have special investigations or come into hospital then this can even be arranged through Clinical Video Telehealth.