ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Patients of primary care physicians who participated in video consultations with liver disease specialists had a 54% higher survival rate than patients whose primary doctors didn’t participate in those exchanges, according to a study published recently in Hepatology. The study was conducted at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System using the Specialty Care Access Network-Extension of Community Healthcare Outcome (SCAN-ECHO) program. Using vital records provided by the Veterans Health Administration, researchers learned that there were 62,237 veteran patients with liver disease in Michigan, central Indiana and northwest Ohio between 2011 to 2015. Of that group, only 513 patients had a primary care physician who engaged in a SCAN-ECHO consultation about their case. During those consultations, videoconferencing was used to link primary care providers and specialists. The individual patient cases were discussed and treatment plans and recommendations were made in real time. Although the Veterans Health Administration is a fully integrated health care system that treats a unique population, similar video consultation programs could benefit any situation where specialty care and primary care providers need to partner—especially when distance is a factor, said Dr. Grace Su, chief of gastroenterology at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, in a statement. “Video consultation is the future of medicine,” she said. “Our only other alternative is to send specialists to rural areas, and that’s not going to happen.”
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will allow VA doctors, nurses and other health-care providers to administer care to veterans using telehealth, regardless of where the provider or veteran is located, including when care will occur across state lines or outside a VA facility.
It was previously unclear whether VA providers could provide care to veterans in other states through telehealth because of licensing restrictions or state-specific telehealth laws. The new rule exercises federal preemption to override those state restrictions, paving the way for the VA to expand care to veterans using telehealth.
“This new rule is critical to VA’s ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ initiative,” said Robert Wilkie, acting secretary of the VA, in a statement. “Now that the rule has been finalized, VA providers and patients can start enjoying the full benefits of VA’s telehealth services.”
By enabling veterans to receive care at home, the rule will especially benefit veterans living in rural areas who would otherwise need to travel a considerable distance or across state lines to receive care.
In the announcement, the VA also unveiled VA Video Connect, a video conferencing app for veterans and VA providers. Through this new rule, VA providers will be able to use VA Video Connect and other forms of telehealth to furnish care to veterans anywhere in the country, including in the veteran’s home.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently released a new online feature through its My HealtheVet portal that allows veterans to access their medical images and associated study reports online. The tool, called VA Medical Images and Reports, allows veterans with a premium account to view, download and share copies of their radiology studies, such as X-rays, mammograms, MRIs and CTs, from the VA electronic health record. Veterans can view a list of accessible radiology studies, which are available in My HealtheVet, three calendar days after the study report has been verified. When a request for a specific study is completed, veterans can view a lower resolution thumbnail copy of the images and the associated radiology report online, or download a zip file that contains the report and diagnostic quality images.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched its new VA Video Connect application last week, connecting veterans with their health care team from anywhere, using encryption to ensure a secure and private session. The app makes VA health care more convenient and reduces travel times for veterans, especially those in very rural areas with limited access to VA health care facilities. It also allows health care access from any mobile or web-based device.
WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the launch of a “beta” version of its Lighthouse Lab, a computer platform that offers software developers access to tools for creating mobile and web applications that will help veterans better manage their health care, services and benefits. “One of my top five priorities is to modernize our systems, and the announcement of the Lighthouse Lab supports VA’s move toward adopting commercial off-the-shelf products,” said David Shulkin, VA secretary, in a statement. “Lighthouse represents VA’s commitment to providing a digital experience in line with what veterans are getting from the private sector by rapidly bringing cutting-edge solutions into VA that can help us accommodate our veterans’ unique needs.” Lighthouse is the department’s application programming interface management platform and its architecture supports the VA’s move toward adopting commercial off-the-shelf products and innovative acquisition approaches, Shulkin said.
MARTINSBURG, W. Va. – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded 1Vision a $258M contract to provide telehealth to veterans.
Th company, a subsidiary of HMS Technologies, received a one-year base contract with four one-year option periods.
“As a service-disabled veteran myself, I firmly believe this contract is a vital step to make healthcare treatment for our nation’s heroes more efficient and accessible,” said Bill Kirkpatrick, CEO of HMS Technologies and managing director of 1Vision, in a statement. “We are honored to be part of this contract and are pleased that the VA has awarded a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business this opportunity to help provide quality products and services to veterans.”
1Vision has chosen AMC Health, a provider of virtual care and remote patient monitoring solutions, to implement its home telehealth solution leveraging CareConsole platform, which will enable veterans to automatically transmit information including vital sign measurements such as weight, blood pressure and blood glucose levels as well as condition specific information to the platform using Bluetooth-enabled devices from their own homes. The CareConsole platform is powered by an analytics engine that alerts a veterans’ care coordinator to any emerging health issues or concerning trends.
The Veterans Health Administration’s Home Telehealth Program relies on telehealth platforms from commercial contractors classified by the VA as Medical Device Data Systems. These systems are purchased by the VHA and used by veterans throughout the United States in their homes as a means of promoting self-management and increased access to care. VA-published studies show that MDDS systems help to improve care, reduce emergency department visits and promote higher levels of patient and clinician satisfaction.
AMC Health’s solutions, the telehealth platform for 1Vision, are developed for clinicians by clinicians.
“We are honored that AMC Health has been selected to help empower veterans to take a more active role managing their health and improving the quality of lives,” said Nesim Bildirici, CEO and president of AMC Health, in a statement. “As the exclusive telehealth provider for 1Vision, we are committed to extending our expertise to help expand medical services to veterans through telehealth.”
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.
DUBLIN – Medtronic has launched new telehealth solutions to support its national contract awarded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for home telehealth devices and services. The expanded suite of telehealth solutions includes patient engagement platforms and a library of disease management protocols designed to meet complex patient care needs. “Our expanded offering is designed to provide more patient choice and flexibility to better meet individual health needs,” said Sheri Dodd, vice president and general manager of MCMS, in a statement. The portfolio of solutions was designed to serve complex, chronic, co-morbid patients and includes multiple, integrated diagnostic devices to help meet differing clinical needs and comfort levels with technology. Patients interact with the service in their homes via a daily health check, which offers condition education and clinical question sets that adapt based on patient responses. The Medtronic Care Management Services business has partnered with the VA since 2011, serving more than 310,000 veterans.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is working on a Digital Health Platform to make all available health data—from personal devices and wearables, to provider-generated information at office visits—easily accessible in one digital location that can follow veterans anywhere.
“The DHP is an entirely new approach to health care,” said Tim Cox, IT strategic communications, external communications lead, Veterans Affairs.
The platform integrates data from VA, military and commercial electronic health records, apps, devices and wearables to a veteran’s health care team in real-time. It is powered by a Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)-enabled Application Programming Interface (API) gateway, enabling data interoperability between systems.
Cox explained that a veteran’s data and full health record is currently housed in many different, complex systems, each holding discrete records of the veteran’s interactions with military, community and VA health teams.
“Our DHP liberates this data, connecting each health record and enabling a wrap-around platform that continuously gathers this discrete data, analyzes each clinical interaction and prescribes precision, proven care,” he said.
The DHP strategy shifts data ownership to the veteran, and makes the information available to the veteran, the provider and the caregiver, said Cox.
“This approach provides a seamless experience for the veteran, offering everything they need to manage their health in one place, including appointment scheduling, video conferencing, sending messages to providers, medication management, fitness goal tracking and more,” he said.
DHP is a true public-private partnership, with the VA working with partners including Salesforce, Mulesoft, Apervita and UCB, as well as the Veterans Health Administration, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Because of this, the VA believes the DHP will save money and improve its return on investment, said Cox.
“Emerging technologies are less costly because of the public-private model (through which the VA and its private partners share assets to deliver the DHP),” he said. “They are more flexible, more attractive to the marketplace and have earlier adoption because benefits outweigh costs.”
CHANTILLY, Va. – On the heels of a partnership with Vivify Health, Iron Bow Technologies has been awarded a $258 million contract from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to deliver scalable in-home telehealth services to veterans.
The award spotlights Iron Bow’s expertise in telehealth and with the VA, as well as Vivify Health’s remote patient monitoring platform experience with hospitals and providers across the country.
“Iron Bow has supported the VA with its globally recognized telehealth initiatives since 2011,” said Rene LaVigne, CEO and president of Iron Bow, in a statement. “We are honored to receive the mission of providing increased remote access to care for our veterans.”
The goal of the contract is to deliver a constant level of care to veterans by using medical devices and conducting virtual visits directly from patient homes, all in an effort to raise the quality of care and standard of living for veterans throughout the U.S. Using home telehealth solutions, VA clinicians will be able to continuously monitor and interact with patients, providing the opportunity to educate the veteran population on various self-care options, as well as lower the risk of repeat hospitalization.
“With Iron Bow as our partner, we have high confidence that we can mutually provide the VA with the best access to continuum care for our U.S. veterans,” added Eric Rock, CEO and founder of Vivify Health, in a statement.