VA Reports that Veterans’ Use of Telemedicine on the Rise
December 03, 2019
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently reported that more than 900,000 Veterans used telemedicine services during fiscal year (FY) 2019, up 17 percent from the previous year. This correlates to 2.6 million episodes of telemedicine care during FY 2019.
The VA plans that by the end of FY 2020 all primary care and mental health providers will be able to deliver care to patients, both in-person and via a mobile or web-based device. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said, “We want every Veteran to have a choice to schedule an in-person, telephone or video visit with their providers depending on their preferences for health care delivery.”
Research indicates that widespread telemedicine adoption could save the health care industry as much as $6 billion annually. From life-saving specialty care to everyday physician visits, telemedicine helps ensure that Pennsylvania physicians and hospitals are able to provide the right care, at the right place, at the right time. For example:
- Telestroke—When it comes to a stroke, seconds count. Each minute care is delayed, a stroke victim can lose 1.9 million brain cells. Employing telemedicine with stroke victims means patients receive faster care, increasing survival rates and improving quality of life
- Primary care—Telemedicine can reduce costs, improve health outcomes, increase access to primary and specialty care, and enable preventive care and chronic condition monitoring and management
- Teledermatology—Patients often have to wait months to schedule in-person dermatology appointments in Pennsylvania. With teledermatology, a patient can take a photograph of the skin issue, send it to the specialist, and receive a diagnosis and a treatment plan within minutes—offering patients an opportunity to obtain less expensive and faster diagnoses
- Telepsychiatry—Evidence indicates that telepsychiatry yields outstanding clinical ratings for treating substance use disorder—particularly important during the current opioid crisis—as well as many other conditions, including depression, anxiety, and psychosis
For more information, contact Warren Kampf, HAP’s senior vice president, advocacy and external affairs; or Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.