VA North Texas nurse, Lana Morrison, establishes a secure video connection with USMC Veteran Jocelyn Howard to conduct a remote medical appointment. Spending 15 minutes for a medical appointment via a secure video connection using her smartphone, Howard saved a half-day away from work and countless stressors that come with the hour-long commute to Dallas VAMC. (Photo by Jennifer Roy, VA North Texas Public Affairs Specialist)
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Jocelyn Howard has mastered time management.
As a commercial driving license (CDL) instructor, every minute Howard spends away from her classroom is money out of her pocket and less than optimal training for her students, many of whom are Veterans.
“A trip to Dallas VA Medical Center can take up an entire day, and that’s time and training I have to find a way to make up to my students,” said Howard.
For Veterans like Howard, VA Video Connect (VVC) is removing obstacles to timely care and making services more accessible to Veterans, with better health outcomes and fewer missed work days. Using a secure application available on most mobile devices, computers or tablets, Veterans can connect with their health care team from almost anywhere.
On this day, Howard needed a brief consult with her medical team to discuss persistent pain and clarify something she read in her My HealtheVet record. The nature of these needs lent themselves perfectly to VVC.
“The possibilities are tremendous for patients enrolled here at VA North Texas,” said Dr. Shafeeq Khan, VA North Texas primary care physician. “I have patients that travel 70 miles or more for appointments, so this technology benefits them greatly and saves time for everyone.”
The average age of a VA North Texas Veteran is 58, with many still working full-time. Finding time for these Veterans to make and keep doctor’s appointments can be challenging, especially when coupled with the rural nature of VA North Texas’ 40 county coverage area. Visiting a primary care physician or specialist can mean missing work for most of a day, with or without pay.
For Veterans like Howard, who lives 40 miles from her provider, a consult of this nature would normally take 3 to 4 hours. Using VVC for the first time from the comfort of her dining room, Howard was able connect using her smart phone and complete the entire consult in less than 15 minutes.
“You’re talking about one very happy Veteran,” said Howard.
Since its launch in February VA North Texas has conducted more than 400 VVC appointments. Every service, including primary care, pharmacy, mental health and social work are trained and equipped to provide VVC appointments to the 134,000 enrolled VA North Texas patients.
About the author: Michael Cole is a public affairs specialist at the VA North Texas Health Care System.