VA partners with 3 companies to boost telehealth services

The Department of Veterans Affairs is enlisting partners in an effort expand telehealth services to the nation’s veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is enlisting partners in an effort expand telehealth services to the nation’s veterans.

The agency has announced several industry partnerships in a program to enhance its connected care program, offering growing support for the use of telemedicine services to expand virtual care services.

The VA aims to build its program through partnerships with Philips, Walmart and T-Mobile to expand efforts to extend care to underserved veterans.

Under the expansion plan, Philips will provide telemedicine technology, while Walmart will offer its telehealth stations to the initiative. In addition, the agency has tapped T-Mobile to provide 70,000 lines of wireless service to the healthcare providers and support staff across all VA hospitals, clinics and outpatient facilities around the nation, making T-Mobile the primary wireless provider for the agency.

Observers see the agreements as representative of the rising interest of multiple industries to participate in virtual care delivery.

The agency outlined plans for the telehealth collaboration at last week’s Anywhere to Anywhere, Together Summit, which drew together the nation’s top industry, government and not-for-profit leaders to increase connectivity and access to telemedicine services for veterans. The program is intended to foster innovation and facilitate national, partnership-based solutions to promote collaboration.

Under the program announced with the three companies, the concept will be tested through a pilot program expected to kick off in targeted locations that consider the number of veterans and the health resources offered. The final locations selected will be announced at a later date. The collaboration includes donated space and operational support by Walmart for VA-led telehealth services.

The move is significant because the agency already is a major player in providing telemedicine services, reporting more than 2.3 million episodes of care last year, and its leaders have expressed their intent to use telemedicine to expand care delivery for the nation’s veterans.

The VA hopes to expand efforts to use telemedicine to expand care delivery, “helping accelerate our shared journey to fully integrated, seamless access to healthcare no matter where a veteran resides,” says VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We thank our industry and community partners for their commitment to improving veterans’ healthcare.”

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