VA Video Telehealth and Training Programs During the COVID-19 Response
Keywords:COVID-19 PANDEMIC, surgery, telehealth services, VA, Veteran’s Administration, Video
Objective: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a robust telehealth program supported by a training infrastructure for VA clinicians and staff. In fiscal 2019, over 909,000 VA patients received a portion of their VA care through telehealth, and over 60% of VA’s primary and mental health care providers participated in one or more Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) appointments to a patient’s home.
In March 2020, during the initial spread of COVID-19, Veterans Health Administration leadership issued guidance for providers to transition from in-person care to virtual modalities for routine care not requiring a physical encounter. VA’s comprehensive training infrastructure helped providers quickly become capable of delivering CVT care to meet the needs of their patients, and the VA Office of Connected Care Quality and Training (QT) Division adjusted the program as providers’ needs evolved.
Design: As clinical staff faced new and increasing demands to respond to needs during the pandemic, the QT Division streamlined existing training programs to deliver essential content and enable providers to acquire necessary telehealth skills more quickly. This included reducing the number of core courses required to become telehealth-capable from four to two by introducing an integrated course. The QT Division reorganized and edited content from other accredited courses to convey key topics. To shorten courses for providers with full schedules, the QT Division removed accreditation from some courses, such as the COVID-19 VA Video Connect for Providers course.
Results: The QT Division’s pandemic response resulted in over 80,000 new course completions in the first month and over 20% more primary care and mental health providers conducting CVT visits in the first five months. During this period, the number of CVT appointments increased by over 1,000%.
Conclusion: VA’s telehealth training infrastructure, implemented by the QT Division, enabled VA to enter the COVID-19 public health emergency fully prepared for the rapid growth in telehealth care. As CVT became increasingly important during the COVID-19 response, the QT Division made necessary curriculum adjustments to meet provider and patient needs.
Moderator: Lyle Berkowitz, MD, FACP, FHIMSS, Editor-in-Chief, Telehealth and Medicine Today
1. Weaver SJ, Dy SM, Rosen MA. Team-training in healthcare: a narrative synthesis of the literature. BMJ Qual Saf [Internet]. 2014;23:359–372. Available from: https://qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/23/5/359 DOI: 10.1136/bmjqs-2013-001848
2. Garzonis K, Mann E, Wyrzykowska A, Kanellakis P. Improving patient outcomes: Effectively training healthcare staff in psychological practice skills: a mixed systematic literature review. Europe’s Journal of Psychology [Internet]. 2015;11(3):535–556. Available from: https://ejop.psychopen.eu/index.php/ejop/article/view/923 DOI: 10.5964/ejop.v11i3.923
3. Karami A, Farokhzadian J, Foroughameri G. Nurses’ professional competency and organizational commitment: Is it important for human resource management? PLoS ONE. 2017;12(11):Article e0187863. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0187863 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187863
4. McVeigh P. Primary Care and Mental Health Providers Using CVT to Home. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, VSSC Reports; 2020.
5. Peters J. VHA Talking Points – Telehealth, Fiscal 2019. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration; 2019.
6. McVeigh, P. Veteran Satisfaction, Telehealth at Home or Mobile Appointment Survey. VSignals, Veterans Experience Office. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; 2020.
7. McVeigh P. Telehealth Virtual Forums Dashboard. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Connected Care, Quality and Training Division; 2020 [cited 2020 June 24].
8. McVeigh P. Quality and Training Dashboard. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Connected Care, Quality and Training Division; 2020 [cited 2020 July 22].
9. Stressel P. Video Visits to Home or Off-Site. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Connected Care; 2020.
10. Galpin K. VA Telehealth Talking Points for White House Domestic Policy Council. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Connected Care; 2020.
Copyright Ownership: This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, adapt, enhance this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Catrell Maurice Harris
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to Telehealth and Medicine Today (THMT).
THMT is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.