Black Hills VA says telehealth services have increased 200% during months of COVID-19
STURGIS, S.D. –Telehealth appointments through the Dept. of Veterans Affairs reportedly increased by 1,000 percent during the last several months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth, or VA Video Connect, being a way for medical professionals to continue seeing patients even if it is through screen time.
Black Hills VA Healthcare System, alone, has seen an increase of 200% in their telehealth services since March. And through June, 674 telehealth appointments were conducted for veterans.
Telehealth has also played a crucial role in treating patients for mental health while also being convenient.
“People are so isolated now and when they can just connect with their providers, their nurses, their care teams through video, it really gives both the provider, the care teams and the veterans that connection they’ve been so desperately needing these day,” said Black Hills VA Telehealth Nurse Manager, Jill Tobin.
Thirty-eight services can be conducted via telehealth – ranging from oncology, pharmaceuticals, Patients have a variety of options for receiving care. VA is also taking strides to bridge the digital divide for Veterans who lack the technology or Internet.
It doesn’t stop there. The hospital – being a part of the VA network – has access to specialists across the nation.
Telehealth isn‘t a novelty for the VA. They have been using telehealth for nearly a decade but during the pandemic technology has evolved making an option for patients to receive care safely and effectively.
Even with advancements and the benefits of efficiency, telehealth is not replacing in-person care entirely, any time soon.
“We want to think of telehealth for what it is rather than what it’s not,” said Paul Cotton, social worker at Black Hills VA. “I like to think of telehealth as an opportunity where otherwise an opportunity does not exist. So we’re creating doors for patients to walk into that otherwise were closed.”
Telehealth has been an effective way to provide veterans with ongoing care and prevention.
And it can also provide patients and caregivers with connections to the Chaplain, homelessness prevention, suicide prevention, fitness and more.
For a list of VA suggested apps visit HERE.