Before VA started using video telehealth, trips to the emergency room or VA clinic were necessary for all wound care follow-ups. Now VA has multiple virtual visits as an option to manage wound care, including “VA Video Connect,” VA’s videoconferencing app and the patient-facing “My VA Images” app.
VA Video Connect enables Veterans to meet with VA staff virtually to discuss how their wounds are healing. Angela Sells saw the benefits of VA Video Connect when she was a telephone triage nurse for six years at Mountain Home VA in Tennessee. Sells used VA Video Connect to enhance the care she provided Veterans.
A Veteran had come home from surgery and their bandages had fallen off their surgical wound. VA Video Connect made it so Sells could see the problem and instruct the Veteran’s spouse on how to treat the wound from home.
“In a world without VA Video Connect, you would only be able to tell them to come into the emergency room,” Sells said.
Very useful when distance and access are factors
VA Video Connect is extremely useful for Veterans in similar situations, especially when they are hours away from the nearest VA facility or do not have immediate access to transportation.
Virtual visits also act as an alternative to in-person care if there is no need for hands-on medical care by VA staff. Sells told another story about a Veteran who used VA Video Connect to avoid close contact with anyone at the beginning of the pandemic. “The Veteran’s spouse didn’t want to bring him into the emergency room because it was right at the start of the pandemic. But I was able to see the wound and describe it to the surgeon and then give the Veteran and his spouse a call back.”
Sells said that VA Video Connect is a tool that can reduce stress and worry for Veterans and their family members after surgery. “People panic a little bit in post-op,” she said. “It’s helpful to do a quick virtual visit and have somebody take a look and give that reassurance.”
Provider can let the Veteran know if ER trip is necessary
VA Video Connect visits also benefit Veterans who are unsure of whether they need to go to the emergency room. The Veteran can use the app to connect with their VA provider, who will analyze the situation and make a recommendation to the Veteran.
Sells has since transitioned from triage to a new role as a registered nurse care coordinator at VISN 9’s Clinical Resource Hub. She said that in her new role, she shares her previous success with VA Video Connect to encourage Veterans and providers to use the app.
“I try to get one VA Video Connect visit at a time and word of mouth seems to make an impact,” she said. “Every day I am trying to talk Veterans into using it.”
My VA Image enhancements will extend health care provided
The VA Office of Connected Care will soon launch a feature enhancement in Virtual Care Manager that will enable providers to request, manage and respond to images or video sent by Veterans through My VA Images as part of their care plan.
My VA Images can help reduce emergency room visits for wound care and other conditions, as it complements and extends the health care provided through virtual care tools such as VA Video Connect.
To learn more about VA Video Connect and other apps that support caring for wounds, visit the app’s page on the VA App Store.