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Rural Health Information Hub

Implementation Considerations for Telehealth Programs Serving Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), a healthcare system with a long history of providing innovative telehealth programs to meet the needs of rural veterans, who account for approximately 25% of all veterans in the U.S. In 2016, the VA provided over 2 million telehealth episodes of care across over 30 signature telehealth programs.

A specific focus of telehealth programs that serve veterans is behavioral and mental healthcare. Rural communities that serve veterans from tribal communities may be interested in reviewing implementation considerations for telemental health clinics for rural Native veterans. The guide discusses cultural considerations for working with Native veterans in the context of behavioral telehealth and includes training resources for telemental providers.

Rural communities that serve veterans may also benefit from reviewing the Implementation Manual for a Telemental Health Outreach Clinic Between a Veteran Health Administration Facility and an Academic Health Center, which provides specific information about building partnerships between VA medical centers and medical facilities on college campuses. Suggestions include ensuring that patients can receive services in private and confidential spaces and making plans for mental health crises.

Resources to Learn More

Rural Promising Practices
Showcases innovative local projects addressing rural veterans' healthcare and access issues. Provides clinical and operational information about these models for healthcare professionals serving rural veterans, including those models using telehealth to improve access to care.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration Office of Rural Health

Telehealth Services in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Presentation Slides
Outlines the vision and status of telehealth in the VA in 2013. Describes VA national telehealth programs and outcomes of telehealth services.
Author(s): Darkins, A.
Date: 1/2014