Jason Strickland, a veteran and a spokesman for the Veterans Administration (VA) Rocky Mountain Network, reminds veterans that while some private telehealth concerns are pulling back on their virtual care business due to disappointing business metrics, “at VA, we’re doing the opposite — we’re expanding the services offered virtually.” Strickland says in 2023, about 40% of veterans who used VA health care received some of their care through telehealth. This makes the VA one of the nation’s largest providers of telehealth services. Strickland states firmly that telehealth supports the ability of the VA to deliver “high-quality clinical care directly to veterans where and when they need it.”

The VA says telehealth service is transforming how veterans access high-quality VA care. “From your home, the clinic, or the hospital, VA telehealth technologies make it easier for you to connect with your VA care team,” the VA states.  Without leaving home, you can meet with VA providers virtually and send important health data, using your computer or mobile device. If you’re at a VA clinic, you can connect with VA health specialists across the country. And telehealth in hospitals helps VA providers collaborate to improve your care — whether they share an office or work on opposite sides of the country.

Strickland offers three practical ways veterans can leverage telehealth services:

1. Veterans Routine Care

VA offers 24/7 virtual care through VA Health Connect. VA says Health Connect makes it easier for veterans to access “The Right Care, Right Now.” It “creates access for veterans who need quick, reliable healthcare services, but not in-person treatment.” Core services include:

  • Pharmacy services to refill and renew prescriptions, ask medication-related questions, receive medication education, and review treatment plans.
  • Primary care scheduling and administrative support to help veterans make, change, or cancel appointments, relay a message to the veteran’s care team, and receive additional information about VA services.
  • Clinical triage (Nurse Advice Line) to talk to a registered nurse and discuss new or worsening medical or mental health concerns and receive recommendations for health care needs. This may also include virtual clinic visits with a VA Health Connect doctor by phone or video to discuss health care needs.

(Veterans can also text VA Health Connect using the VA Health Chat app (VA Chat) Monday through Friday [excluding holidays], 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time.)

2. Veterans Emergency Care

VA Health Care System’s Emergency Departments are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Note: If you have a medical or mental health emergency, please call 911, the veterans crisis line at 988 then press 1, or go to the nearest emergency department. However, if you are unsure about going to an emergency room, please call VA Health Connect in your area to talk to a nurse about your issue, get advice and plan for care. If needed, VA can even send an ambulance to your location.

3. Veterans Connected Care

Consider telehealth for future VA clinical appointments. Strickland says VA has a wide array of innovative telehealth technologies that provide enhanced access to care, mobile health remote monitoring, and more. Additionally, telehealth enables you to connect to care in more than 50 specialty areas and get access to experts near and far. You can find a complete list of VA telehealth specialty services on the In the Clinic page under Specialty Care.

How Colorado Veterans Can Get Started with Telehealth

VA says if you are already enrolled in VA health care, getting started with telehealth begins with a conversation with your VA provider. So contact your VA provider or your local VA Medical Center.

Each VA Medical Center has staff members who can tell you about the telehealth options available to you and help you enroll. To find your nearest VA Medical Center using the VA facility locator, enter your city, state, or ZIP code and select VA health from the Choose a facility type drop-down list.

Footnote: Study Suggests Telehealth May Benefit Veterans Transitioning from ICU

The Helio medical news site reports that research presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference found that among high-risk veterans discharged from an Intensive Care Unit, a telehealth care model reduced mortality and led to more hospital-free days.

Helio said the Post-Acute Recovery Center (PARC) telehealth transitional care model is designed to aid high-risk patients after the ICU and is led by nurse practitioners, according to the study abstract.

Helio quoted Hiam Naiditch, MD, MHS, pulmonary and critical care fellow at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as saying, “Post-intensive care clinics have emerged as a mechanism of identifying new health conditions and easing the transition back to home life.”

The study showed that 90-day mortality was lower for veterans in the PARC group vs. the non-PARC group, and veterans in the PARC group also spent more days at home. “Post-ICU clinics have had varied outcomes,” Naiditch said. “We saw a compelling association between enrollment in our clinic, mortality and hospital-free days, which we and others believe are most important to our patients.”

He added that at this time “our results are preliminary,” and “further analyses will be needed to confirm our results.”