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VA Health Systems Research

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HSR&D Helps Increase Access to Virtual Care for Veterans

April 3, 2020

Of the approximately nine million enrolled Veterans receiving VA healthcare, nearly one-third live in rural, highly-rural, and insular island areas, and many others experience transportation and financial challenges that are deterrents to using VA healthcare. These barriers are further compounded for the two million Veterans with mental health conditions, some of whom avoid care due to perceived stigma or privacy concerns. Several QUERI (Quality Enhancement Research Initiative) programs and partnered evaluations are working to increase virtual access to care for these Veterans.

  • Investigators with the Virtual Specialty Care QUERI National Program work with operations partners (i.e., VA’s Office of Rural Health, Office of Connected Care, and Mental Health Services) to determine how emerging technologies can be optimally incorporated into clinical interventions to better serve Veterans living in rural settings. For example, the “Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD (TOP)” multi-site quality improvement project promotes engagement in evidence-based psychotherapies by Veterans with PTSD served in VA’s community-based outpatient clinics. To date, a total of nine care managers have been trained at five VAMCs and engaged 874 hard-to-reach Veterans with PTSD in 25 VA Community-based Outpatient Clinics.
  • Investigators with the Precision Monitoring to Transform Care (PRISM) QUERI National Program are working with VA’s Office of Rural Health on the “Evaluation of VA Tele-Stroke Robotic Rehabilitation Program Implementation” to provide rural Veterans who have had a stroke with an innovative, proven solution for physical rehabilitation that improves functional independence and access to care in a new way that mitigates transportation barriers.
  • Investigators with the eHealth QUERI Partnered Evaluation work to demonstrate the impact of VA connected care technologies – and to improve Veterans’ access to these technologies. eHealth QUERI is evaluating connected-care technologies that are of the highest priority to VA’s Office of Connected Care. These include, but are not limited to the VA Online Scheduling app, the Annie Automated Text Messaging System, and the VA Video Connect app that supports real-time video visits between Veterans and their VA healthcare teams.
  • Investigators with the Enhancing Veterans’ Access to Care through Video Telehealth Tablets QUERI National Partnered Evaluation are examining the reach, adoption, and implementation of video tablets to Veterans with geographic, clinical, or social access barriers to in-person care so that they could receive services in their homes or other convenient locations. They also will evaluate the effectiveness of tablets on Veterans’ access to care, clinical outcomes, experience with care, as well as any cost savings to VA and to Veterans (i.e., time and travel).

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