As I noted in my last blog, I had the honor last week to speak at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States in San Antonio.
It was a great opportunity for me to share some of our recent accomplishments and planned improvements that will mean better health care and access for our Veterans.
I was proud to bring them up to date on some of these impressive recent results:
Our Home Telehealth technologies have reduced hospital admissions by 35 percent. In FY 2014, VA’s Telehealth Services provided 2.1 million episodes of care to 717,000 VA patients. That represents 150,000 patients who were case-managed by home telehealth.
And 250,000 of our Veteran patients used clinical video telehealth between VA clinics. More than 4,000 patients received clinical video telehealth visits directly into their homes.
It’s one more way we are providing easier access to VA health care for our Veterans. Note that 45% of these patients using telehealth live in rural areas.
Here’s another way we are using the best of current technology to benefit our Veterans. We have provided over 12,000 mobile tablets to VA clinicians at more than 30 VA medical facilities. And that’s working because 80% of our VA care team members say their device saves time in clinical activities.
I also emphasized to our DoD partners the many surveys and assessments that prove that VA health care is among the best in America.
One independent assessment found that postoperative morbidity was lower for VA patients compared to non-VA care (our patients live longer after surgery), inpatient care was more or as effective in VA as in non-VA hospitals, and VA hospitals were more likely to follow best practices for infection control.
And that’s just one appraisal. There are many more comparisons, which you may not see on the front page, which confirm that VA health care is as good as or better than hospitals in the private sector.
VA and the Department of Defense have long and historic shared histories, all focused on one goal – you, the Veteran and your health care. The many accomplishments I shared with our DoD partners last week reinforce our mission to continue together to provide access and health care to all of the men and women, in uniform or not, who served our nation. My only priority now is to serve you.
Dr. David Shulkin is the Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration