Navigating hospital hallways can be a challenge — with providers, nurses and other medical professionals darting around to see patients.
But Dr. Alison Grazioli (pictured above) often doesn’t need to navigate those hallways, unlike many of her fellow providers at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center. She makes her clinical rounds with patients that live over 250 miles away from the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, W.V., without taking a single step.
“The technology we’ve implemented in Clarksburg is incredible,” said Grazioli. She is one of over 20 providers and nurses offering real-time intensive care telehealth (tele-ICU) services to 19 VA medical facilities across the country. The team facilitates the 24/7 virtual care from physical hubs in Cincinnati, Atlanta, Cleveland and Baltimore.
Tele-critical care workstations allow over 20 providers and nurses to offer real-time intensive care telehealth services to 19 VA medical facilities across the country
“I had some hesitancy at first with providing tele-critical care services. I’m so used to offering care while physically in the room,” Grazioli explained. “But then I learned how powerful our system is.”
Monitor more patients than we could in person
“We have the ability to virtually monitor everything you physically would from inside an exam room,” Grazioli said. “In fact, we can continually monitor more patients than we could in person because all of the vitals appear in one easy-to-access platform.”
Because of the program’s success, Grazioli began offering tele-nephrology visits to the Clarksburg VAMC.
“For Veterans needing renal care and dialysis treatments, it is often much safer to keep them closer to home instead of traveling long distances to see a specialist. These telehealth visits allow them to do just that, while keeping them close to family and friends.”
Dr. Ralph Panos said these specialty telehealth services are improving the quality of care for Veterans. Panos is the tele-critical care medical director for VISN 10 in Cincinnati. VA could soon offer additional specialty care services, such as tele-pulmonology and tele-cardiology.
Video Connect usage up 235%
“There are a lot of other potential uses for telehealth technology to meet the needs of Veterans in rural areas. It really puts VA at the forefront of inpatient care technologies,” Panos said.
VA’s telehealth technology is becoming more popular with Veterans. It’s part of VA’s effort to connect Veterans with care no matter where they live. VA Video Connect enables Veterans to use their smartphones or computers to consult with care teams from anywhere. It uses encryption to ensure a secure and private session.
In fiscal 2019, VA Video Connect usage increased by 235% (294,000 total visits) compared with fiscal 2018. Over 99,000 Veterans used VA Video Connect from their home.
“As we continue to incorporate technology into our daily lives, telehealth programs will meet the needs of people in ways that we haven’t seen before,” said Panos. “This is a really exciting time for health care within VA.”
Treva Lutes is a program specialist for the Office of Connected Care.