Every day, there are new inventions, new mobile apps to download and new solutions for simple everyday tasks. VA has led the charge on many world-renowned innovations, such as developing a standard for better-fitting lighter artificial limbs to creating the first nicotine patch to help smokers quit.
Advancements in delivering and accessing health care at VA make a real difference in the lives of Veterans and eventually all Americans. At VA, finding new ways to improve the Veteran experience is far beyond just technology. Partnerships within VA and outside can lead to creative solutions like testing for cancer at home, using an app to get to a doctor’s appointment or using telehealth to talk to a doctor about a medical concern.
Cancer screening from the comfort of your home
What if you have a family history of colon cancer, are waiting for a diagnosis or you are experiencing symptoms that usually appear in the late stages of colon cancer? It’s daunting. But what if you could be eligible to take a screening test at home? VA developed a ground-breaking and convenient way with mail FIT (fecal immunochemical test) kits. These kits make it easy for eligible candidates to get screened at home and catch colon cancer early. Research has shown the at-home FIT kits can detect colon cancer early, and early detection increases the five-year survival rate to 90%.
The VA Clinical Resource Hubs’ Colorectal Cancer team at Veteran Integrated Services Network 4 partnered with local VA medical centers so Veterans can receive the right screenings at the right time. Local VA facilities work with nurses to identify Veterans who previously had polyps or other risk factors for colon cancer. They let them know about FIT kits as a screening option during their primary care appointment. The FIT kit is designed to make it easy to get screened and to get results from the comfort of your home.
Connecting everyone, everywhere to their health care
Companies with significant resources, such as Uber Health, have been a game changer for VA and the Veteran community. Uber Health is tackling one of the greatest barriers to Veterans’ access to health care: transportation. Through a partnership with VA and Uber Health, Veterans can get reliable transportation to and from their appointments. The program has prevented an estimated 28,000 missed appointments, and feedback from a small poll of participating Veterans shows 83% wouldn’t have been able to get to their appointments without Uber Health.
In a similar effort, VA’s National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation and Palo Alto VA are working with Verizon Public Sector to conquer the digital divide. This trio brings telehealth and virtual care options to Veterans living in rural areas by providing broadband connectivity. For Veterans living in these areas where there are gaps to connecting to the internet, telehealth services like video appointments are not typically an option. With this new setup, cellular or low-earth-orbit satellite connectivity allows Veterans to use virtual care options like Video Health Connect, an app that allows secure and confidential video appointments with a health care provider right from home.
Investment in the future of care
Partnerships, technology and expanding existing services play a critical role in the future of health care. VA is working to set the stage for future inventions by having an open-minded approach to connecting you to your care. Today, Veterans have more options for timely high-quality care than ever before. We’re continuing to push the boundary to transform care for Veterans.