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Modifying Whole Health Services for Successful Telehealth Delivery: Lessons from Veterans Health Administration's Rapid Transition During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Wu J, Bolton RE, Anwar C, Bokhour BG, Khanna A, Mullur RS, Taylor SL, Hyde J. Modifying Whole Health Services for Successful Telehealth Delivery: Lessons from Veterans Health Administration's Rapid Transition During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of integrative and complementary medicine. 2023 Sep 1.

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The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is shifting care from a disease-oriented to health-creating approach that aims to provide whole person care. This Whole Health (WH) system combines person-centered care with delivery of WH services (e.g., health coaching, well-being education and skill-building classes, and evidence-based complementary and integrative health therapies), alongside conventional medical services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, WH services were modified for delivery through telehealth (teleWH). This article characterizes modifications to WH services made to maintain continuity during the transition to telehealth formats. We conducted semistructured qualitative interviews with a purposive sample of 51 providers delivering teleWH services at 10 VHA medical centers. We examined WH service modifications as well as facilitators and barriers to those modifications using rapid coding and directed content analysis. Modifications were driven by (1) preparing for teleWH service delivery and (2) improving teleWH service delivery. To prepare for teleWH services, modifications were prompted by access, readiness, and setting and resources. Modifications to improve the delivery of teleWH services were motivated by engagement, community-building, safety, and content for a teleWH environment. One-on-one teleWH services required the fewest modifications, while more significant modifications were needed for well-being, skill-building, and movement-based groups, and reconfiguration of manual therapies. Findings highlighted the need for modifications to ensure that teleWH services are accessible and safe and support interpersonal relationships between patients and providers, as well as in group-based classes. Successfully delivering teleWH services requires proactive preparation that considers access, readiness, and the availability of resources to engage in teleWH services. Tailoring strategies and considering the unique needs of different teleWH services are critical. The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed teleWH service implementation, utilization, and sustainment. The challenges faced and modifications made during this transition provide lessons learned for other health care systems as they attempt to implement teleWH services.

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