Can Better Tech Save the Veteran Affairs Department?

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Veterans Hosptial Visitby Angela Guess

David Pittman of Politico recently wrote, “The Veterans Affairs health crisis might be solved with something as simple as putting the right software in the hands of far-flung doctors. Part of the $17 billion bill to overhaul the troubled health system involves much heavier usage of information technology, so that veterans in dire need of health care won’t have to travel long distances or get bogged down with wait times as they try to see a doctor in person. It gives special attention to telemedicine, the remote medical services that have growing popularity on the Hill thanks to a strong new lobbying operation.”

Pittman continues, “Telemedicine allows patients and doctors in isolated communities to engage in long-distance consults with experts. It might be used by a diabetic patient at a Navajo health clinic to send an image of an infected wound to an infectious disease expert at a big hospital in another state; a recovering drug addict in a North Dakota town could get medication advice from a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic. Already, the technology is being used by the Veterans Affairs throughout the country and there is evidence that it saves money and improves access and care. But its use is spotty and unfocused, according to the bipartisan bill, which could pass in the House by Thursday, with Senate passage Friday. Congressional supporters hope wider use of the technology could reduce wait times for the beleaguered VA system.”

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