The Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system isn’t exactly known for setting standards in healthcare efficiency. Indeed, this past year saw a scandal that rocked the entire healthcare system as it was revealed that veterans had died while awaiting care at VA hospitals and senior officials had falsified figures to make wait times appear more favorable. It’s safe to say 2014 was not the greatest year for the VA.
But was it all bad?
In October, the VA released figures related to the success of their implementation of telehealth practices:
“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national telehealth programs served more than 690,000 Veterans during fiscal year 2014. That total represents approximately 12 percent of the overall Veteran population enrolled for VA healthcare, and accounted for more than 2 million telehealth visits. Of that number, approximately 55 percent were Veterans living in rural areas with limited access to VA healthcare.”
This article from HealthcareDive reported in addition that
“…the results of VA telehealth programs include a 34% reduction in readmissions for home telehealth participants and a 42% reduction in bed days for telehealth participants in FY 2014.”
From a telemental health standpoint, there has also been significant success when using telemedicine to treat PTSD, arguably one of the most visible and prevalent veteran health issues. HealthDive reported that:
“During the 12-month follow-up, 73 of 133 patients (54.9%) in the TOP [telehealth] intervention received cognitive processing therapy compared with 16 of 132 patients (12.1%) in usual care. Patients in the TOP intervention also had larger decreases in scores on a posttraumatic diagnostic scale, which measures PTSD severity, at six and 12 months compared with usual care patients… The authors found that attending eight or more sessions of cognitive processing therapy predicted improvement in posttraumatic diagnostic scale scores.”
The figures are astounding, and hugely positive, both for proponents of telemedicine and also rural patients who struggle to access adequate care. With the VA healthcare program standing as a symbol of our overburdened and understaffed national healthcare system, it’s indisputable that incorporating telehealth practices could prove the key to alleviating our most pressing healthcare issues.
If you’re a Medical or Mental Health professional interested in seeing patients online click below to get a free demonstration of our convenient, affordable, secure and easy to use “virtual office.”