Do you remember the days when doctors made house calls? With gas approaching $4 a gallon wouldn’t it be nice to once again have a doctor come to your home, or to be able to drive to a location near your home for a medical visit rather than driving into Boston? Well, with today’s technology and innovative equipment this can be a reality.
Through the use of a program called Telehealth, providers are able to monitor health status, provide health education, and offer patients various medical and specialty clinics remotely using high-tech video equipment. (Think no long commute for a medical appointment!)
This is how it works. Medical appointments using the Telehealth program take place between providers and patients who are located in different clinical settings. You could be at the Plymouth Outpatient clinic videoconferencing with your doctor in Jamaica Plain, or you could be talking with a dietician who is at the Causeway Clinic, or, in some instances, you can be in contact with a provider while in the comfort of your own home. Each Telehealth program, and what it can offer its medically eligible Veterans, is different and very specific to the medical service or specialty involved.
There are three different kinds of Telehealth programs, Home Telehealth, Clinical Video Telehealth, and Store and Forward Telehealth. The Home Telehealth Program has been established and used for many years, while Clinic-based Telehealth has recently been implemented for different specialty care.
The most widely used type of Telehealth program is the Clinic-based Telehealth program. Clinic-based Telehealth is just what its name implies; the patient is at a clinic close to their home, while their provider is at a different clinical location, sometimes hundreds of miles away. In some situations the provider and patient are conversing in real time using videoconferencing equipment; in other situations the Veteran is with a trained health technician in the role of an Imager. The health technician records relevant health information and any necessary images, stores them in the Electronic Medical Record, and then transmits the data as a standardized consult to a doctor or medical specialist for official evaluation and recommendations.
With the rapidly growing popularity of Telehealth, VA Boston Healthcare System (VA BHS) is adding more clinical options for patients to use. Currently VA BHS offers Tele Radiology, Tele Mental Health, Tele Spinal Cord Injury, Tele Nutrition, Tele Vascular Surgery, Tele Allergy, Tele Orthopedic Surgery, Tele Amputation Care, Tele Dermatology and Tele Retinal imaging. Many of our outpatient clinics are in the process of establishing a Clinical Video Telehealth-based relationship with each other for the delivery & coordination of other clinical specialties to include Home Based Primary Care and Tele Audiology (starting at the Lowell CBOC).
Using Telehealth brings the care you need closer to your home, saving you time, money and a long ride into the city. If you are interested in learning if you are medically eligible to participate in one of our Telehealth programs talk to your VA physician during your next appointment.