In response to COVID-19, VA is embracing social distancing to stop or slow the spread of the virus. Telehealth platforms help protect Veterans and VA providers while ensuring Veterans continue to receive high-quality care.

VA Video Connect lets Kimberly Braswell, pictured above, ensure continuity of care for the Veterans she serves. Braswell is a nurse practitioner in the cardiology unit at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida. Specifically, VA Video Connect allows Veterans and providers to conduct secure, real-time video visits through a smartphone, computer or tablet. As a result, it’s an invaluable resource for many in these uncertain times.

“Working in cardiology, our entire patient population would be in the higher vulnerability and higher risk group should they contract coronavirus. Therefore, it’s very important to protect them from any potential exposures,” said Braswell. “For me, it was easy to switch from patients coming into the clinic to conducting their visits using VA Video Connect.”

For many Veterans, the ability to keep their medical appointments came as a relief. Braswell estimates 60% to 70% of her patients have switched to video appointments. Many of them over the last few weeks were first-time users.

Age is not a barrier to new technology

“Patients dealing with cardiology concerns have anxiety in making sure they’re taken care of and have their medications. It’s also a concern for newly diagnosed patients who need that first consultation. The prospect of postponing an appointment can create a lot of stress. VA Video Connect eliminates that stress.”

Braswell recalled some Veterans who were skeptical of being able to understand and navigate new technology. The Veterans were surprised to see how simple it is to set up and use VA Video Connect. Similarly, age has not been a barrier to adopting the new technology, either. Braswell’s oldest patient using VA Video Connect is 99 years old.

“You can see the Veterans’ relief and happiness. They can connect to their providers and have their issues addressed without interrupting their care. It’s one thing to talk over the phone, but making that face-to-face connection and being able to see their provider on video increases Veterans’ level of confidence with their care.

“The way Veterans receive care might be changing, but they’re still receiving the same quality of care and attentiveness from their care teams. It’s been a seamless transition.”

Veterans taking a different look at virtual care

Braswell’s fellow providers at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital are also working to get their patients to use VA Video Connect.

“Patients are glad they can do their visit by video. I think both Veterans and providers are taking a whole different look at virtual care.”

VA Video Connect is part of the VA Office of Connected Care telehealth program. The Office of Connected Care focuses on improving health care through technology by engaging Veterans and care teams outside of traditional health care visits. By bringing together VA digital health technologies, the Office of Connected Care is enhancing health care coordination across VA and supporting Veterans’ participation in their own care.

For more on COVID-19, visit VA’s page on the virus. Also, to learn more about VA Video Connect and other Connected Care telehealth technologies, visit the Office of Connected Care website.

This story appears courtesy of VA’s Office of Connected Care.

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Published on Apr. 16, 2020

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