The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Boston, Mass-based American Well are bringing telehealth services to U.S. Veterans in their homes, workplaces and other convenient locations, thanks to the VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2) Industry Innovation Competition. This initiative will focus on using American Well’s Online Care system and aims to make needed care more accessible, convenient and efficacious for Veterans, particularly those remotely located from VA medical centers. The agreement marks the first deployment of American Well’s telehealth technology by the U.S. government.
The Online Care service will aim to improve access by allowing Veterans to have online visits with their own providers, as well as multi-disciplinary care teams when needed, through the Internet. Using two-way video, secure text chat and/or phone, providers will be able to review patients’ clinical information, discuss symptoms, provide medical advice, and diagnose and prescribe medications as appropriate. At the end of each online consultation, a record will be captured automatically that the Veteran can share with appropriate healthcare providers, maintaining continuity of care.
Specifically, American Well’s initiative with VA will result in the use of its telehealth solution to establish three “online practices” to benefit Veterans:
In Minnesota, the Minneapolis VA Health Care System (MHCS) will establish an online Behavioral Health Practice that allows its providers to treat existing patients who are remotely located from the MHCS, with the goal of increasing the patient-centeredness of mental health services treatment, while improving Veterans’ access to convenient and affordable care.
In Nebraska, the Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System (NWIHCS) will establish an online Oncology Practice to bring healthcare providers from the Omaha VA Medical Center (VAMC) together with cancer patients across the state, many of whom live in rural areas and are currently required to drive long distances for their appointments.
The NWIHCS will also establish an online Perioperative Practice to allow surgeons to deliver post-operative care to patients via Online Care, as part of a collaborative team that also includes staff providing home-based primary and extended care.