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Journal of General Internal Medicine special issue on VA virtual care

VA was one of the first U.S. health care systems to offer virtual and telehealth services for patients. Now, after more than two decades, VA is one of the largest telehealth providers in the nation.

The Journal of General Internal Medicine, in collaboration with VA Health Systems Research, has published a special issue that highlights VA’s 20-year history of advancing telehealth.

The issue, “Virtual Care in the Veterans Health Administration: Evidence to Advance Access, Engagement and Outcomes,” explores opportunities to advance virtual care research throughout the health care system and improve Veteran care.

“We are thrilled that this special issue in the Journal of General Internal Medicine charts the success of VA’s virtual care programs and provides data-driven examples for further innovation,” said Dr. Kevin Galpin, executive director of VA Telehealth Services.

Advancing virtual care research

The journal’s special issue contains articles reporting on VA’s telehealth data findings and initiatives.

One article examines the effectiveness of VA sites that have Clinical Resource Hubs, which help deliver care through telehealth to Veterans nationally. The article finds that VA sites with a hub had lower rates of emergency care and hospitalization during the pandemic than sites without a hub. Another article analyzes the dramatic increase in video-based primary care among Veterans experiencing homelessness.

Assessing this type of data is critical to VA’s mission to improve Veteran care. After the rapid expansion of virtual care use during the COVID-19 pandemic, VA recognized a need for more research to improve virtual care services. VA partnered with independent researchers and leaders in the field to find answers and encourage innovation.

“As a learning health system, VA can call on research partners to advance the quality of virtual clinical care for Veterans,” said Dr. Donna Michelle Zulman, one of the editors of the special issue. “The rich data available to VA researchers has facilitated large-scale, rigorous evaluations that are not possible elsewhere.”

Paving the way for telehealth

VA’s Office of Connected Care has developed cutting-edge virtual care technologies so Veterans can access high-quality care anytime anywhere. These technologies have not only increased the accessibility of care but also expanded VA’s capacity to serve Veterans. In fiscal 2023, VA delivered over 11.6 million telehealth episodes of care to over 2.4 million Veterans.

VA is committed to innovation in telehealth services and continues to support groundbreaking research that improves patient outcomes. This special issue provides a road map for the future of VA’s telehealth services.

Read the special issue on the Journal of General Internal Medicine’s website. And to learn more about the history of VA Telehealth Services, read our post about the program office’s 20th anniversary.

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