Dr. David J. Shulkin, the Veterans Administration’s www.va.gov Under Secretary for Health speaking at the American Telemedicine Association www.americantelemed.org 2016 conference held recently in Minneapolis, announced that five VA Mental Health Telehealth Clinical Resource Centers are being established to provide enhanced mental health access and services to veterans in remote locations.
The VA currently services more than 677,000 veterans via telehealth which amounts to about 12 percent of the 5.6 million veterans receiving healthcare from the VA. Clinical Video Telehealth, Home Telehealth, Store and Forward Telehealth modalities are available to deliver telehealth to the veterans.
VA Telehealth www.telehealth.va.gov services are available for more than 45 specialty areas of care. Top areas for VA telehealth services are mental health, rehabilitation including audiology and speech pathology, retinal imaging, primary care, weight management, cardiology, and dermatology.
The VA’s Mental Health Telemedicine Clinical Resource Centers will help veterans particularly those living in rural areas with rapid access to mental health services where local barriers exist. The Centers are to be located in Charleston S.C, Salt Lake City, Utah, Pittsburgh, PA, and a consortium of facilities in Boise, ID, Seattle, WA, and Portland OR.
The fifth facility already operational in West haven CT, is a specialty hub focused on the most severe and complex mental health issues, such as chronic depression and bipolar disorder. The others are expected to be available in the summer with priority to be given to VA medical facilities in urgent need of additional mental health providers.