The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced that video telehealth appointments to Veterans’ homes increased over 1000 percent, as Veterans increasingly chose virtual care through VA Video Connect during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Salem, the VA Health Care System, which includes the Salem VA Medical Center and five Community Based Outpatient Clinics, conducted more than 2,000 telehealth and VA Video Connect appointments during the month of May, a 2000 percent increase over the number of similar appointments in January.
VA Video Connect allows Veterans and their caregivers to meet virtually with their VA care teams on any computer, tablet, or mobile device with an internet connection. As in-person interactions decreased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, VA Video Connect supported Veterans’ abilities to continue care and remain safely at home. Usage of video to home services has been increasing since mid-March with peak usage reaching over 29,000 appointments per day nationally.
Other telehealth milestones from the Salem VA HCS include:
- More than 2,000 unique patients have had a telehealth appointment – up from less than 300 in FY2019
- More than 92 percent of primary care physicians have used Veterans Video Connect (VVC)
- More than 87 percent of mental health clinicians have used VVC
VA is also taking strides to bridge the digital divide for Veterans who lack the technology or broadband internet connectivity required to participate in VA telehealth services. At the national level, VA is working with strategic partners, through the VA Secretary’s Center of Strategic Partnerships, to increase access to the technology that Veterans need to connect with their VA health care team virtually.
“As we near the three-year anniversary of the launch of VA Video Connect, even during these challenging times, VA has and continues to maintain access to high-quality health care for Veterans,” said Rebecca Stackhouse, Executive Director of the Salem VA HCS. “As the service becomes more popular, VA remains committed to providing a seamless user experience to ensure Veterans have access to care where and when they need it. Going forward, I believe VVC and telehealth will continue to be an important component in caring for the medical needs of the Veterans of Southwest Virginia.”
- Submitted by Rosaire Bushey, Public Affairs Officer