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Geriatrics 2018, 3(3), 57;

Vet Connect: A Quality Improvement Program to Provide Telehealth Subspecialty Care for Veterans Residing in VA-Contracted Community Nursing Homes

VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centric and Value-Driven Care, 13611 East Colfax Ave., Aurora, CO 80045, USA
School of Medicine, The University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 June 2018 / Revised: 21 August 2018 / Accepted: 31 August 2018 / Published: 5 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geriatric Care Models)
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Veterans residing in Veterans Health Administration (VA) contracted Community Nursing Homes (CNHs) receive primary care from the CNH they reside in, but often travel to Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) for specialty care services. The Vet Connect project is a quality improvement project aiming to implement video technology to support access to specialty care. Methods: Eight Denver VAMC specialty care providers and three project nurses underwent telehealth training and obtained appropriate equipment. To identify in-person visits eligible for substitution of video visits, project nurses review charts of CNH Veterans, consult directly with Veterans, and obtain recommendations from staff. Project nurses serve as tele-presenters within the CNHs, while VA specialists provide care from the VAMC. After each visit, team nurses coordinate care with and deliver specialty care recommendations to CNH staff. Results: We assessed clinical, business, and technical domains of the Vet Connect project, and utilized process mapping to identify barriers and facilitators to implementation. Clinically, starting on 26 June 2017 through 1 June 2018, N = 203 video visits have been conducted with 11 different CNHs in three subspecialties: geriatrics, palliative care, and mental health. These visits generated 49 referrals for 37 Veterans. Fiscally, cost analyses indicate that per visit, the health care system saves an estimated $310. Technologically, the success rate was 83%. Process mapping helped identify facilitators and barriers to implementation of the telehealth program, including cultivating buy-in from key stakeholders (i.e., medical and mental health providers, telehealth staff, and CNH staff), communication allowing for ongoing program adaptation, and building relationships. Conclusion: Subspecialty care delivery to nursing homes using video visit technology in the Vet Connect program is feasible using centralized organization to coordinate complex clinical, business and technical processes. Vet Connect has proved sustainable and has potential to expand within and outside of the VA. View Full-Text
Keywords: healthcare models; geriatric care; telehealth programs; cost savings healthcare models; geriatric care; telehealth programs; cost savings

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Hale, A.; Haverhals, L.M.; Manheim, C.; Levy, C. Vet Connect: A Quality Improvement Program to Provide Telehealth Subspecialty Care for Veterans Residing in VA-Contracted Community Nursing Homes. Geriatrics 2018, 3, 57.

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