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VA Partnership Set to Increase Rural Veterans' Telehealth Access

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs aims to boost telemedicine availability for American veterans residing in remote regions nationwide. Through a new agreement with Verizon Public Sector and the Palo Alto VA Healthcare System, the VA looks to provide 4G or 5G cellular as well as satellite internet connectivity to veterans living in rural digital divide areas.

This expanded connectivity architecture for veterans in broadband deserts intends to enable enhanced virtual care and wellness resource access offered through the Veterans Health Administration.

Why Expanded Connectivity Matters for Rural Veterans

For veterans lacking reliable internet availability in isolated locales, crucial VA telehealth and tele-wellness services are frequently out of reach or unreliable. This new VA partnership seeks to overcome accessibility barriers through delivering mobile and satellite broadband solutions straight to those residing in rural ZIP codes across America.

Enhancing virtual connectivity aims to better assist remote veterans location-wise through emerging technologies encompassing telemedicine, e-mental health resources, online therapeutic tools and more designed for at-home adoption.

Ongoing Efforts to Boost Veterans Telehealth Nationwide

Limited broadband access hinders widespread virtual care adoption rates among the rural veteran population with mobility issues restricting in-person healthcare visits. Although the Veterans Health Administration oversees care delivery across 1,000+ medical sites in the US, geographic/transport hurdles still minimize service options for veterans not living near facilities.

Prior strategic telehealth initiatives for American veterans include the Anywhere to Anywhere program focused on expanding telemedicine availability to community clinics and call centers conveniently closer to patients in their hometowns. Another is the Telehealth Emergency Management Team launched in 2017 to establish emergency tele-critical care capabilities helping ICUs respond during Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

These emergency and decentralized telehealth foundations proved vital for enabling rapid system scaling to meet surging demand for remote patient monitoring and virtual consults as COVID-19 outbreaks unfolded coast to coast. Today they represent a model to overcome locality barriers that disproportionately impact rural veterans seeking more personalized care alternatives closer to home.

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