Knoxville — Medical services offered by the VA Central Iowa Health Care System (VACIHCS) have expanded to include the use of telemedicine. Benefits include home access to medical services and less time on the road for veterans to meet with care providers.
VACIHCS Directory Judith Johnson-Mekota held the first of what she hopes to be several demonstrations of the technology and services available to veterans at the Knoxville Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) Thursday morning. The CBOC is located inside Building One on the Knoxville VA campus. When asked for a time frame on the new CBOC, Johnson-Mekota said she is hopeful that she can announce a contract award soon, but gave no specified time frame. A recent moratorium, barring the VA from entering into new leases, was lifted only recently.
Even without a different location, services at the CBOC have diversified. The CBOC treated 2,564 different veterans last year and provided over 25,000 appointments. Access to services remains a concern.
Home Telehealth Services provides a device, placed in a veterans home, with a data connection, that can be used to assist in the treatment of a variety of afflictions. The program is voluntary, and veterans will still be seen by doctors when necessary. Veterans are eligible for teh program if they suffer from heart problems, hypertension, weight issues as well as mental health disorders.
Pamela South offered a demonstration of the device. A veteran can turn it on and answer questions by pressing a button. Data is then securely transferred to the VA. South said this technology saves time and helps veterans avoid trips to the emergency room. Safety measures are in place and if a veteran does not respond at a scheduled time, a call is placed.
"I really like it," veteran John Rose said of the Home Telehealth program. Before having a machine installed in his home, he had been told that veterans would not like the machine. He does not understand why now.