RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

VA TELEHEALTH UPDATE September 14, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on September 14th, 2008

Exploring how best to extend telehealth services to veterans living in rural areas will be one of the key missions of three Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers to be opened by the Veterans Affairs Department on 1 OCT. The centers, to be located at the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont, at the Iowa City VA Medical Center, and at the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center, will serve as satellite offices for VA’s Office of Rural Health. Patricia Vandenberg, assistant deputy undersecretary of veterans affairs said in an interview, “The rural resource centers are envisioned not to be providers of services but rather enablers of systematic care for veterans in rural communities.

The objective is to conduct policy studies and analyses of data and to develop pilot projects to potentiate and enhance access” to existing telehealth and telemedicine services.” The centers are also meant to be “repositories of information and facilitators of information exchange within the Veterans Health Administration nationwide, as well with other government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Service, and with nongovernmental entities,” she added. The VA is planning to capture and disseminate insights from center studies through a Web site. “In that way, we will have real-time communication of information across the three centers and across the system at large,” Vandenberg said. “The compilation of information and insights and their rapid dissemination will enhance the quality of service we provide to veterans in rural areas.” Vandenberg did not rule out the possibility of investing in other information technologies to capture and analyze data from the centers but added, “It will take at least nine months to gain the intelligence” needed to inform those decisions. Vandenberg expects the centers to spotlight, not only what diverse rural communities have in common, but also how they are distinct, as far as delivering health care services to veterans. [Source: Government Health IT Peter Buxbaum article 29 Aug 08 ++]

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