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Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D In Progress

In this issue: Advancing VA Telehealth and Virtual Care
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June 2021

Overview: HSR&D Contributions to Advancing VA Telehealth and Virtual Care

Telemedicine is an increasingly vital component within the VA healthcare system to increase access and improve quality of care for Veterans residing in rural areas – or any Veteran with limited access to healthcare. According to VA’s Office of Rural Health (ORH), nearly one-quarter of all Veterans living in the United States (4.7 million) currently reside in rural settings, where healthcare may not be easily available. By extending care beyond brick-and-mortar clinics, telemedicine increases the reach of care teams and is more convenient for patients, thereby increasing access to healthcare, which is particularly critical during a pandemic.

HSR&D contributes to VA’s efforts to increase access to healthcare among all Veterans through telehealth and virtual care in several ways. For example, HSR&D’s Center to Improve Veterans Involvement in Care (CIVIC) partnered with DoD’s Telehealth and Technology Center to develop and test the Virtual Hope Box smartphone app. As of Spring 2018 , the app had been downloaded 400,000 times, with high positive feedback. HSR&D’s Charleston Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center (HEROIC) supports a Telehealth Research Collaborative that is focused on expanding the use of Clinical Video Telehealth throughout VA medical centers nationwide. HSR&D’s Virtual Care CORE facilitates research that evaluates and improves the use of virtual care to enhance the accessibility, capacity, and quality of VA healthcare. In addition, HSR&D’s Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) has several projects and programs that work to increase Veterans’ access through leveraging innovative healthcare technologies, such as Enhancing Veterans’ Access to Care though Video Telehealth Tablets and the Virtual Specialty Care QUERI Program, to name a few.

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