The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is responsible for providing quality, efficient and accessible health care to veterans in the largest health care system in the United States. In addition to its medical care mission, VHA is the nationís largest provider of graduate medical education and a major contributor to medical and scientific research. VHA also provides emergency medical preparedness and disaster response.
VA health care has become a system focused on prevention of disease, early detection, health promotion, and easier access. VA has come to lead the health care industry, not only in the areas of specialized care, but also in many other important areas like patient safety, health promotion and disease prevention, computerized patient records, and telemedicine.
VA is conducting more than 350,000 consultations annually via telemedicine. Telemedicine uses specialized videoconferencing equipment or computers with video cards to allow people miles apart to have a face-to-face conversation. Telemedicine has made care more accessible for rural and elderly patients. Telemedicine is being used for radiology, pathology, dermatology, psychiatry, and home-care consultation for spinal cord injury patients.
Other examples of technology VA uses to enhance the quality, accessibility, and safety of care include a computerized mail-out pharmacy that ensures timely and efficient delivery of drugs, satellite broadcast of continuing medical education, and bar-coding to aid in the accuracy of medication administration.
VA seeks to maximize the ability of the special veteran population to become full and productive members of society. Through Special Emphasis Programs (SEPs), VA addresses illnesses specific to the service-connected veteran population or the psychosocial needs of certain identified veterans. SEP programs include Homeless Veterans Programs, Seriously Mentally Ill, Readjustment Counseling, Spinal cord Injury and Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Gulf War Veterans, Women Veterans, Blind Rehabilitation, Preservation-Amputation Care & Treatment, and Prosthetics & Sensory Aids.
VA research has improved medical care not only for veterans, but all of us. VHA has provided important contributions in research areas such as aging, women veteransí health concerns, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health issues.
VHA is developing a Care Coordination program. In this new program, health care providers will utilize interactive sessions via the Internet, telephone calls, and telemedicine visits to determine whether complications have developed, and if so, arrange for care when needed.
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