The VA has said it conducted more than one million telehealth visits with veterans during fiscal 2018, an increase of 19 percent from the prior year—about half of which were real-time interactive video conferences and the rest assessments of data or images.
The VA telehealth program is one of the more prominent of the government’s moves toward virtual delivery of services, touted for improving accessibility to health care for patients who otherwise might have difficulty attending an in-person appointment, especially those in rural areas.
From the department’s point of view, telehealth is a more efficient use of medical personnel amid serious problems with under-staffing in those positions.
Veterans can use the VA’s mobile device app or on personal home computers to reach departmental personnel in more than 50 specialties in real time, the department said. The remainder of the visits involve monitoring of data such as vital signs or images such as skin or eye conditions that are sent directly by the veteran or caregiver, or by VA staff at another facility.