Experts Discuss Telehealth Tools, Wireless Internet Access at VA

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During a Thursday hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Health, experts spoke about VA's new telemedicine programs and outlined plans for future efforts, Government Health IT reports.

VA Telemedicine Projects

VA officials said the department is creating a prototype of its MyHealtheVet personal health record for use on mobile phones. The PHR application allows users to access educational health information, receive wellness reminders and refill prescriptions.

Joseph Smith -- chief medical and science officer at West Wireless Health Institute -- discussed another VA project that links veterans with chronic health conditions to health professionals via videoconferencing tools, biometric devices and other telemedicine equipment.

Gail Graham -- deputy chief officer in health information management at the Veterans Health Administration -- said the agency also is looking to improve veterans' care coordination through secure messaging and social networking tools (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 6/24).

Wireless Internet at VA Facilities

Also on Thursday, Graham announced that VA plans to install wireless networks at the department's 153 hospitals, 134 nursing homes and 50 residential rehabilitation centers across the nation.

She said veterans and their families could use the wireless Internet access for communication, e-mail and various therapeutic activities.

Graham also noted that the new wireless networks would operate separately from previously established networks that support medical operations (Brewin, NextGov, 6/24).

Recommendations for FDA

During Thursday's hearing, experts called for FDA to accelerate the certification and review process for wireless technologies that improve care delivery in rural areas.

David Cattell-Gordon, a faculty member at the University of Virginia, recommended that Congress:

  • Continue funding projects that use wireless devices to enhance health care;
  • Provide incentives to health systems that use wireless technology;
  • Encourage medical educators to incorporate training with wireless devices;
  • Promote standards for use of wireless devices; and
  • Help develop a nationwide wireless network with consistent coverage (Pecquet, "HealthWatch," The Hill, 6/24).

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