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President Trump and VA Secretary announce telehealth initiatives

President Trump and Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary, David Shulkin, M.D., announced telehealth initiatives that will help give access to healthcare for veterans across the country.

Through new telehealth initiatives, the VA will be able to practice over 50 clinical specialties including tele-dermatology and tele-intensive care, a White House press release said.

“This will significantly expand access to care for our veterans, especially for those who need help in the area of mental health… and also in suicide prevention,” Trump said in the release. “It will make a tremendous difference for the veterans in rural locations.”

Shulkin added that the “VA already has the largest telehealth program in the country. Last year, we had 700,000 veterans who got telehealth services through the VA.”

President Trump and Shulkin said the VA will be focusing on three specific telehealth initiatives:

  • After working with the White House Office of American Innovation and the Department of Justice, Shulkin said he will be issuing a regulation that will authorize VA providers that use telehealth technologies to serve veterans no matter there that provider or the veteran patient is located in the country, a press release from the White House said. The initiative is called the “Anywhere to Anywhere VA Health Care”. Trump and Shulkin are hoping this initiative will empower the VA to hire providers in metropolitan areas with an abundance of clinical services and connect them to veteran patients in rural areas.
  • The VA is also initiating a nationwide rollout of a new application called VA Video Connect which will provide secure and web-enabled video service that will make it easier to connect with providers via their mobile phones or personal computers. It is currently being used by more than 300 VA providers. It will be rolled out to VA providers and veterans across the country next year, the release said.
  • There will also be a nationwide roll-out of an application to make it easier to schedule and change appointments called the Veteran Appointment Request (VAR) app, the release said. The app is currently available at several locations nationwide.

“What we’re really doing is, we’re removing regulations that have prevented us from doing this,” Shulkin said. “We’re removing geography as a barrier so that we can speed up access to veterans and really honor our commitment to them.”