WASHINGTON – A bill headed to the President’s desk will help remove regulatory barriers to telehealth, allowing the Veterans Affairs to use technology to shift health care for veterans out of hospitals and into their homes.
Congress passed a bill last fall that removed a location requirement, paving the way for the VA to treat veterans anywhere in the country using telehealth technology. A similar bill passed this week in the Senate.
“This brings telehealth solutions to the forefront,” said David Shulkin, secretary of Veterans Affairs. “Whenever possible, our goal is to deliver health care to veterans in their homes, safely, because it’s in their best interest.”
The VA has developed a robust telehealth program, which includes home telehealth for veterans who have chronic conditions like diabetes, chronic heart failure, COPD and others. With “Anywhere to Anywhere VA Health Care,” which was introduced last fall, VA providers treat veterans anywhere in the country using telehealth technology, no matter where the provider practices. In the past, veterans using telehealth had to travel to a clinic to be seen by a provider at another clinic or facility.
Shulkin said the expanded access to telehealth will allow for an increase in remote patient monitoring and evaluations, which can be done in the home by health care professionals who use tablets and other devices.
As the barriers to telehealth are removed, Shulkin said the future is bright for veterans who want to live independently at home as they age.
“We’re able to integrate the use of technology with the ability to deliver care in person, and when you combine that with home visits, you start to develop an environment where you can care for veterans wherever they live,” he said.