The Alexandria Echo reports on the escalated use of telehealth at the VA since the threat of coronavirus…
Stay-at-home orders and other responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been the spark for even more veterans to seek health care through electronic means. The growth has been so dramatic that more than half of all routine appointments within the system are now being conducted using virtual tools, Venable said.
“For example, VA Video Connect appointments have increased 63 percent since February across the health care system,” he said. “The Max J. Beilke VA Clinic conducted seven of these appointments in February and 47 appointments were completed in March.”
Before all of this, the St. Cloud system had one of the highest veteran usage rates of any medical center.
“What makes that so remarkable is that central and west-central Minnesota are really rural,” said Joann Houge, the system’s telehealth coordinator.
“We have the capacity to do more,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons for this push to expand telehealth. It allows us to serve more, and it makes it more convenient.”
The VA claims to be the largest provider of telehealth in the country, reasons for which Houge said are two-fold: many veterans live in rural areas where they travel an hour or two each way to the nearest VA clinic; and such a large percentage want to stay within the VA system.