Improving Veteran Care through Tele Health - West Texas VA Health Care System
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West Texas VA Health Care System

 

Improving Veteran Care through Tele Health

Dr. Jeremiah Riggins, PhD with the Mental Health Tele Health equipment

Dr. Jeremiah Riggins, PhD with the Mental Health Tele Health equipment

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The West Texas VA Health Care System (WTVAHCS) prides itself in providing the best care available to our Veterans, but being a rural facility can present some obstacles to maneuver. Tele-health bridges the gap in care for our patients and allows us to provide the right care, at the right place, at the right time.  Tele-health allows for the provision of a variety of services that range from specialty care with doctors in Albuquerque, NM to consultations with our Pharmacists for our Veterans at a time and place most convenient for them. It is available at our Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), at the George H. O’Brien, Jr. VAMC in Big Spring, TX and is now being offered in the Veteran’s home.

The WTVAHCS has been providing Tele-health services since 2010 and is excited to offer Video to Home as the newest service available to our Veterans. Video to Home will provide our Veterans better and more convenient access to their healthcare regardless of issues such as distance, geography, cost, weather, and time away from their families.

Video to Home Tele-health allows the patient to see his/her doctor from home, it is only necessary for the Veteran to have internet services and a computer. If the patient does not have a video camera, the WTVAHCS can provide one. We are one of the only facilities that offer this service because we are highly rural. If a Veteran’s Primary Care Physician finds that he/she is appropriate for this program, a test video call will be set up prior to the first appointment to ensure that the technology and the Veteran’s knowledge of the technology is all in working order. Our Veterans are in control of the Video to Home appointments, they dial in and they disconnect when the appointment is over. The High Definition Video uses a secure link to the West Texas VA Health Care System firewall so our Veteran’s privacy is still protected. 

Video to Home appointments are now being offered through Home Based Primary Care, Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom/ Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) and we have plans for implementation in the future with Pharmacy, Mental Health and Women’s Health.

We are also proud to announce the start of OEF/OIF/OND Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) clinics. Within the OEF/OIF/OND Program, we are striving to make connecting with Veterans easier and travel less extensive in order for them to receive care coordination and case management services. The current initiatives in progress include:

  • Clinical Video Tele-health to Home for initial case management assessments and continued case management follow up. This allows us to connect with Combat Veterans in their home and eliminates the requirement for the Veteran to travel to a CBOC or Big Spring to receive our services.

 

  • Comprehensive Traumatic Brain Injury Evaluations (CTBIE) is a new program that has allowed us to do Comprehensive Traumatic Brain Injury Evaluations utilizing a specialized provider from Tucson, rather than having to rely on the availability of our one and only provider in Big Spring. This has reduced the wait times for our Veterans in receiving Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) evaluations, which, in turn, results in further specialized care that the Veteran may require being ordered sooner, rather than later. We are also submitting an application to participate in a pilot project with the National TBI Poly-Trauma System of Care to begin having CTBIEs conducted at the CBOCs rather than the Veteran having to travel to Big Spring. The pilot project is set to start this fall.

 

  • Clinical Video Tele-health (CVT) to the CBOCs for Case Management appointments where the Veteran can meet with a Case Manager via Tele-health means, instead of traveling to Big Spring, or the Case Manager traveling to the CBOCs – this initiative reduces travel time for the Vets and for the OEF/OIF/OND Case Managers, allowing for more time available to meet with Veterans.

 

  • Poly-Trauma appointments, such as Speech Therapy, Neurology and Psychology, will soon be available to Veterans identified as needing these services. These specialized care appointments will provide our Veterans, who have been identified as needing specialized care during their TBI evaluation, to receive such care through the VA. It will be delivered via Tele-health and will reduce and/or eliminate the need for our Veterans to travel to Albuquerque for this care, or to be fee-based out to the community. This will mean reduced travel for the Veteran.

Each of these Tele-health Programs is either already in place or will be coming soon.  We are excited to be able to offer these services to our OEF/OIF/OND Combat Veterans who have a multitude of issues and would benefit from care that is readily accessible, timely and convenient.

Any questions or concerns regarding these Telehealth clinics can be directed to Kelli Soria, Facility Telehealth Coordinator 432-263-7361, Ext. 2169 or Patrecia Butler, RN Case Manager, Acting OEF/OIF/OND Program Manager 432-263-7361, Ext. 2125.

 

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