VA hopes for an increase in remote conference appointments
Published: June 22, 2012
WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs officials are hoping changes to the department’s remote health care consultation policies will boost the number of appointments conducted by remote conference and provide both easier and faster care for veterans.
Mental health officials in the department have set a goal of 200,000 such appointments this fiscal year, an increase of 30 percent from fiscal 2011. The department’s 800 community-based outpatient clinics currently offer the off-site, online video appointments when local providers are not available.
Last month, the VA announced it will no longer require co-pays for those appointments, in which patients at their homes link up via video or telephone conference with mental health professionals based elsewhere.
The focus on mental health services comes as the department marks post-traumatic stress disorder month, and just a few weeks after a VA Inspector General report blasted the department for long wait times and inaccurate record keeping for mental health patients across the country.
In a statement, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the remote conferencing helps officials in “expanding the reach of our mental health services beyond our major medical centers.”
More information is available at their web site, www.telehealth.va.gov.