VA Telehealth Lauded As Model Healthcare Program

Ken Terry | Information Week | January 24, 2012

The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS), which plans to roll out a telemonitoring service for 3 million patients, could learn a lot from the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VHA) home telehealth program, according to a new report from U.K. research firm From an American perspective, the report raises the question of why telehealth hasn't gained more traction in this country, considering the VHA's success with it.

The VHA program, which served 50,000 veterans in 2011, is the largest telehealth project in the world, the report said. Patients enrolled in the program--most of whom have chronic conditions such as heart failure, COPD, hypertension, diabetes, and post-traumatic stress disorder--receive free telemonitoring equipment and attention from care coordinators who teach them how to manage their own care.

The VHA began exploring telehealth in the late 1990s, and it rolled out its current program, called Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT), between 2003 and 2007. According to a 2008 study cited in the U.K. report, the program reduced hospital bed days by 25% and hospital admissions by 19% for a cohort of 17,000 participating patients. A full 87% percent of the patients said they liked the program...