News Release, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today telehealth video appointments using VA Video Connect increased from approximately 10,000 to 120,000 appointments a week between February and May of 2020.
This increase of 1000% is attributed to VA providers and Veterans taking precautions against COVID-19.
“As we near the three-year anniversary of the launch of VA Video Connect, even during these challenging times, VA has and continues to maintain access to high-quality health care for Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “As the service becomes more popular, VA remains committed to providing a seamless user experience to ensure Veterans have access to care where and when they need it.”
VA Video Connect allows Veterans and their caregivers to meet virtually with their VA care teams on any computer, tablet, or mobile device with an internet connection. It is one of the largest and most successful digital health platforms in the nation and currently enables more than 25,000 virtual appointments, including mental health appointments each day.
VA is also taking strides to bridge the digital divide for Veterans who lack the technology or broadband internet connectivity required to participate in VA telehealth services. More than 26,000 cellular-enabled tablets are currently distributed to Veterans across the country. Major wireless carriers T-Mobile, Sprint, now part of T-Mobile, SafeLink by Tracfone and Verizon are allowing Veterans to access VA telehealth services without incurring data charges.
Due to increased demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, VA is rapidly expanding VA Video Connect, allowing more Veterans and VA care teams to connect by video. During this time, Veterans using VA Video Connect with limited data plans could temporarily experience data charges. While, cellular carriers are taking measures to support Veterans during this period of expansion — Veterans with concerns are encouraged to contact their carrier.