VA Dedicated to Reaching Veterans in Rural Areas
The VA is dedicated on a national level to making sure veterans in rural areas continue to get care even after they have left the main centers — through using telehealth technologies to reaching out to local healthcare providers.
VA nationally has made it a goal to really try to reach out into rural healthcare. The VA is very different than other healthcare organizations in the country that, when the patients leave the door of our hospital, they're still with us, we're still responsible for them, so if someone lives 10 hours from the closest VA, it's still our responsibility as best as we can to get care to them or around them. There's been a tremendous amount of effort, energy, funding, and, frankly, expectation from the VA to do a variety of different telehealth opportunities, reaching out with devices directly into the individual's homes, to touching base with local private healthcare teams that can help support. Across the country there are numerous telehealth technologies, but it is a challenge. It is a challenge at times when the individual doesn't necessarily want care. They've had enough of it and they want to be away, so how do you balance that? How can you give enough of a safety net for it to be there but to also have it be invisible at times so they can't see it? Let's take it away and then allow people to do what they need to do and then come back to you. The rural healthcare piece is a constant challenge. How do we touch individuals who are far, far away from our institutions? The VA is dedicated towards it and hopefully leading the country in terms of trying to get these modules out there, but it is definitely a work in progress.
Posted on BrainLine September 27, 2012.
Shane McNamee, MD serves as chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Richmond VAMC and has worked extensively on the development and implementation of the Polytrauma System of Care in the Veterans Health Administration.
Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.