VA wants Telemedicine authority to improve health care for rural veterans

IT World reports…

Officials from the VA recently made their way to Capitol Hill to appeal for legislation that would grant the agency greater flexibility in providing remote health services to the military community. In particular, the VA is putting a “special emphasis” on improving the delivery of health services for veterans in rural and “underserved” areas, according to Dr. Kevin Galpin, executive director of telehealth services at the Veterans Health Administration.

They are looking for a solution that could open a door to similar solutions where policy is hindering technology use…

Galpin’s primary request is relatively straightforward. He is asking Congress to expressly affirm that VA providers are authorized to deliver telehealth services across state lines and to patients in their homes.

“This authority will remove barriers that currently exist between a national VA clinical expert and a veteran that needs their service,” he said.

They have had success with telemedicine and want to continue to grow…

The VA has three broad categories of telehealth services, comprised of clinical telehealth, home telehealth, and “store and forward” services, where a device captures an image and relays it along to be examined by a specialist at a later time.

The VA offers telehealth services in more than 50 clinical specialties. The VA reports that more than 307,000 veterans received care through a clinical telehealth encounter last year, and, at present, more than 87,000 are using home telehealth services.

In an interesting tangent, the Minnesota House is looking at the definition of telemedicine

HF1314/ SF1353*, sponsored by Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center), would cover professional standards both regarding practice and conduct and services that can be provided via telemedicine including assessment, diagnosis, treatment, education and care management.

The bill would also clarify that “telemedicine” refers to real-time, two-way interactive audio, visual and audio-visual communications — like secure video conferencing, said Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River).

A telephone conversation, email or fax between licensed health care providers would not count as telemedicine consultation or service.

The Minnesota definition seems more limiting that the federal as I’m not sure where the VA’s idea of home telehealth and store and forward fit into the local version of telehealth as video conference. And it will be interesting to see how such differences get ironed out especially since one of the things the VA is requesting is authorization to deliver telehealth service across state lines.

This entry was posted in uncategorized by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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