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Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VAMC

 

Telehealth – The VA’s Virtual Care System

Veteran communicating with their provider through the Telehealth video

A Veteran communicates with their provider through the Telehealth video.

By Casey Chu
Monday, October 28, 2013

Telehealth uses state of the art secure video cameras, data lines and communication devices to connect patients with their medical providers in real-time from long distances.  For patients that are a two to three hour drive from their VA Medical Center, Telehealth is just what the doctor ordered.

Telehealth provides three levels of services:

  • Real-Time Clinic Based Video Telehealth:  Doctors see their patients and patients see their doctors in real-time using a video camera and microphone for medical examinations.  A registered nurse or physician’s assistant is present with the patient and using state of the art equipment, doctors do and see everything that they would as if they were in the same room with the patient.  For patients that are recovering from traumatic injuries that require follow-up visits, this can mean a lot less pain, discomfort, and aggravation. 
  • Store-and-Forward Telehealth:  Images, sound, and/or video information is gathered remotely at a community based outpatient clinic and transmitted to a VA medical facility.  Patients no longer have to travel long distances just to have an x-ray taken or have a skin condition examined.
  • Home Telehealth:  From their homes, patients use video and messaging equipment that allows them to transmit and receive medical information about their symptoms and vital signs to VA medical personnel.  For patients with conditions that require frequent checkups such as diabetes, chronic heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), this can mean a tremendous saving in time and travel.

There is a financial savings for patients as well. 

“If a patient has a co-pay of $50.00 with a specialty clinic, their co pay is discounted to $15.00 by using the Telehealth system,” said Lynn Watson, Telehealth Program Coordinator at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

Patients do not have to worry about their quality of care they receive or the privacy of their health information by using Telehealth.  All communication lines are secure and Telehealth is compliant with the Health Information Privacy and Protection Act. 

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