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Report: VA Telehealth Program Failed to Enroll Most Needy Patients

March 11, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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The Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General (VA OIG) did a review of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) home telehealth program, saying it had missed opportunities for expansion of enrollment.
The review of the program says that the VHA missed opportunities to enroll Non-Institutional Care (NIC) patients in its Home Telehealth Program in 2013. As a result, the report says that VA could have potentially delayed the need for long-term institutional care for approximately 59,000 additional veterans. Telehealth service of those NIC patients declined by 4 percent in 2013, while in contrast, service for Chronic Care Management (CCM) and Health Promotion/Disease Prevention (HPDP) patients increased significantly.
The OIG report says that this disparity occurred because of a change in performance methodology, which focused on the overall number of patients enrolled in a telehealth program. As a result, more patients in the HDHP program were enrolled because those participants would likely need less intervention from physicians due to their health care needs being less complex. The NIC patients, which likely had the greatest medical needs, were ignored. 
The VA OIG recommends VHA implement mechanisms to identify demand for NIC patients and develop specific performance measures to promote enrollment of NIC patients.


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