The use of telehealth technology has spread rapidly. It has been used by the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) for years but is now becoming integrated into the regular operations of hospitals, specialty departments, home health agencies, and private physician offices, as well as consumers’ homes and workplaces. More than half of U.S. hospitals use telemedicine to engage with patients remotely – from monitoring vital signs to full-fledged consultations at a distance. Even a basic webcam can allow critically ill patients access to a world-class team of physicians who could be thousands of miles away.
Telehealth is particularly important for Veterans in rural communities because it changes the location where health care services are routinely provided. Instead of having the cost and inconvenience of traveling by road, rail or air to see a specialist in the hospital the specialist comes to you. If you need medication prescriptions changed or if the you need to see the specialist in person, have special investigations or come into hospital then this can even be arranged through a telehealth device. This telehealth tool is a secure, web-enabled video service, connecting Veterans with their providers using their personal mobile phones or computers.
Before telehealth your physician had to sign a form certifying that you needed home healthcare and that was generally for a specified amount of time. With telehealth, services are available and accessible to any vet with a chronic medical condition. Telehealth changes the way home health care is performed. Instead of needing a nurse or practitioner 3 times a way, a veteran learns how to use the telehealth device that reports his condition on a daily basis. If his condition changes suddenly this is automatically recorded by the device which alerts the veteran's caregiving team. This allows the veteran freedom, flexibility and choices.