Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 18, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a series of new partnerships in an effort to expand its telehealth network and improve access to health services for veterans living in remote areas. The agency has established virtual care programs with T-Mobile, Walmart and Philips.
Walmart stores will have telemedicine stations for veterans in rural locations. Private rooms will enable them to video conference with VA medical professionals across the United States for both basic checkups and specialty appointments. T-Mobile has arranged to provide free access to the VA’s video health app on digital devices to eliminate potential cost barriers preventing veterans from accessing telehealth options.
“It is great to see that there are strides being made toward expanding the availability of health care services for veterans, especially those who reside in remote areas where there is no conveniently located VA hospital,” commented Florida veterans lawyer David W. Magann. “While virtual care is undoubtedly a powerful tool, an important aspect of the VA’s telehealth initiative is making sure veterans are aware of the options that are available to them. It is hard to use these offerings if you don’t know about them.”
Philips Healthcare agreed to use its telehealth technology to offer remote care at 10 American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars sites in rural locations throughout the United States. VA officials announced the new initiatives at the Anywhere to Anywhere Together summit in Washington, D.C. The telehealth conference united top veterans officials, medical professionals and technology experts to discuss how to establish a national remote care network in coming years.
Fiscal 2018 saw more than 725,000 veterans make use of various telehealth appointments at home or in VA facilities. Forty-five percent of those patients resided in rural areas where a visit to the nearest VA hospital would mean more than a 100-mile roundtrip.
“Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart. Ninety percent of veterans don’t live within 10 miles of a VA medical center,” VA official Deborah Scher pointed out. Scher is adviser to the Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships. The new programs will allow veterans more convenient access to health care services, she added.