People often think that new technologies are for the young. But a 100-year old Veteran in Florida has proven otherwise. Dr. Joseph Belshe, a World War II Veteran Air Force medical officer, has used VA telehealth technology for almost two years to receive care from VA.
Belshe incorporated telehealth into his care thanks to Kimberly Braswell, a nurse practitioner in the cardiology unit at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida. As a part of his cardiac care, Belshe meets with Braswell for routine appointments to review diagnostics related to his medication.
Belshe gets diagnostic tests done at his local primary care annex. The provider uploads the test results to Belshe’s VA Electronic Health Record so Braswell can review it. He then meets with Braswell through VA Video Connect, a VA app that enables Veterans and their VA providers to conduct secure, real-time video visits through a smartphone, computer or tablet.
“So convenient… really quite simple”
Through his VA-issued iPad, Belshe receives email reminders about his upcoming telehealth appointments. On the day of an appointment, he receives an email with a link to open his appointment on VA Video Connect.
“VA has made it so convenient for me. It is really quite simple,” he said.
VA Video Connect has also eliminated the need for Belshe to make 80-mile round trips from his home in Lakeland to Tampa for his appointments with Braswell. Of that added convenience, Belshe said, “My time is important to me. So the ability to avoid fighting traffic, I love it.”
Telehealth appointments have become important to everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Belshe was using VA Video Connect for about a year before the pandemic started.
Reliability adds a layer of confidence
“Dr. Belshe is really an early adopter,” said Braswell. “While many people had to adjust their normal routines for social distancing, he was able to continue on the same schedule. I think that reliability added a layer of confidence and peace of mind for him, knowing that his medications and care wouldn’t be interrupted.”
Braswell says her day is always a little brighter when she meets with Belshe. She sees many Veterans through VA Video Connect. And they appreciate the opportunity to connect through video rather than a phone call. “Age is not a barrier to accessing virtual care.”
Belshe agreed. “Being able to have that face-to-face visualization and speak directly has been enjoyable. I think more Veterans should try it even if they don’t have experience with technology.”
For more information on VA telehealth, visit the VA Telehealth Services website and read VA’s Connecting Veterans to Telehealth Care fact sheet.
Treva Lutes is the communications lead for Connected Care Communications.