VA to open five telemental health resource centers

Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin said it will establish the centers this summer in South Carolina, Utah, Pennsylvania and the Pacific Northwest. 
By Jack McCarthy
09:11 AM
VA EHR telehealth

Continuing its push to make telehealth a significant part of its services, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) this week announced five new telemental health resource centers.

“We are in the midst of the largest transformation in the history of VA with MyVA, which means

“We are reorienting what we do around the needs of our Veterans and providing care when, how and where they want to receive that care,” VA Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin, MD, said in a statement.

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The centers will be located in Charleston, South Carolina, Salt Lake City, Utah, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a consortium of facilities in Boise, Idaho, Seattle, Washington and and Portland, Oregon.

A fifth facility, already operational in West Haven, Connecticut, is a specialty hub focused on the most severe and complex mental health issues, such as chronic depression and bipolar disorder. The other centers are expected to be available in the summer, with the priority given to VA medical facilities in urgent need of additional mental health providers.

The VA is placing increased emphasis on development of telehealth services for veterans’ care, using health informatics, disease management, care and case management and telehealth technologies to facilitate access to care. The administration services more than 677,000 veterans through telehealth, which  amounts to about 12 percent of the 5.6 million veterans receiving healthcare from the VA .

VA Telehealth Services are available for more than 45 specialty areas of care. Top telemedicine services are mental health, rehabilitation including audiology and speech pathology, retinal imaging, primary care, weight management, cardiology, and dermatology.

Additional services include real-time interactive video conferencing, home telehealth for veterans with chronic conditions that applies case management principles to coordinate care using health informatics, disease management as well as in-home and mobile monitoring tools, while Store and Forward Telehealth enables asynchronous clinical data sharing among VA and private clinicians.

“These mental health telehealth resource centers will provide our veterans in underserved areas the expert mental health providers they may not otherwise be able to obtain locally.,” Shulkin said. “We know that we are doing more in telehealth than any other healthcare system and connecting mental health providers to areas hard to recruit and retain.”

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