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Telehealth In Action: Remote Care for Veterans

February 20, 2012
at 5:11 am PST

The victim of a gunshot wound to the back of the head, Joseph “Jay” Briseno Jr. came home from his 2003 tour of duty in Iraq to an entirely different life—one that requires extensive ongoing care.

To make necessary healthcare services more accessible to Jay, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C. (DCVAMC) worked with Cisco TelePresence to tailor a telehealth solution specifically to Jay’s needs. Jay can communicate with his doctors through the telehealth device installed in his family home, 30 miles away from the hospital, and avoid the ambulance ride he would otherwise have to take every time he had an appointment.

Using the telehealth set-up, Jay’s doctors can perform detailed exams that assess everything from Jay’s skin to his ventilator settings and whether he needs to come to the hospital. The technology saves Jay’s family the expense of frequent hospitalization and limits disruption of Jay’s life, his father said in a profile of Jay on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website.

Jay is one of more than 400 veterans participating in the DCVAMC’s Care Coordination Home Telehealth program, according to the VA website. Veterans participating in the program can monitor and electronically send intheir blood pressure readings, weight, and blood glucose levels. The patients can also speak with their doctors via telepresence, enabling a personal connection even from outside the doctor’s office.

The VA provides other telehealth services, and has for several years, earning its place as a leader of the proliferating telemedicine trend. In 2007, the VA’s Midwest Network earned recognition for its psychiatry, orthodontic, dermatologic, and health and fitness telehealth programs. Through telepresence, doctors and experts in these fields helped 22,900 veterans. In 2011, the VA announced a new mobile telehealth program for patients with end-stage kidney disease.

As the VA continues to expand its use of telepresence and other technologies for telehealth purposes, I look forward to reading and sharing with you more stories of these tools helping those in need.

In the meantime, best wishes to Jay, a true hero.

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