On Wednesday, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said that VA hopes to leverage health IT tools to reduce the risk of suicide among veterans and active-duty troops, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that suicides among active-duty troops have risen dramatically this year to a rate of about one per day, compared with a rate of about one every 36 hours in previous years. In addition, about 18 veterans commit suicide every day, according to the AP.
Technology To Connect With Clinicians
Shinseki said that VA aims to increase its use of videoconferencing technology to make it easier for military members and veterans to connect with physicians and mental health professionals. He noted that many veterans already communicate with VA staff using online chats and text messages.
According to Shinseki, VA encourages the use of such technology because it helps reduce the stigma that some patients associate with seeking mental health treatment.
Integrating EHR Systems
Shinseki noted that VA is working to integrate its electronic health record system with the Department of Defense's EHR system.
He said that such integration would make it easier for VA health care providers to identify individuals with mental health issues as soon as they leave active-duty military service and enroll in the VA system (Freking, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/20).