- Introduction: A Top-Level Look at the Future of Federal Medicine
- Military Health System in Time of Transition as Conflicts End
- Army Medicine: Redefining Its Role in the Generation of a Ready and Resilient Force
- Air Force Medicine: Averting an Identity Crisis
- Moving Forward with Reforming the Indian Health Service
- The Clinical Pharmacy Specialist's Growing Provider Role in VA
- Public Health Service Pharmacy: Accelerating Transformation
- Military Pain Management’s Future: Less Invasive, More Data-Driven Techniques
- Navy Medicine: Strong, Agile and Ready
- Telemental Health in VA: A New Source of Support for Veterans
What is Telemental Health?
Telemental health uses information and telecommunication technologies to deliver mentalhealthcare services in situations where the VHA clinician and the veteran needing mental-health services are separated by geographic distance.
Twelve years ago, telemental health was primarily a tool veterans could use to videoconference with their psychiatrist to prescribe medications from a distance. Veterans would travel to a clinic close to their home and “see” their remote clinician on a video-television screen. The clinician would often be at a main VA healthcare facility. The visit would usually take place in the same way an in-person visit would, except it used real-time video and audio technologies.
During 10 years of research — much of it conducted as pioneering studies in VA — has provided evidence on the safety and effectiveness of telemental health. Consequently, VA’s telemental-health services have expanded, with more than a tenfold increase in veterans receiving telemental-health services. VHA telemental-health services now are used in the following ways:
- To deliver most every type of treatment to veterans, including individual therapies, group therapies, medication management, family therapy, couples therapy, cognitive-behavior therapies, evidence-based psychotherapies and psychological testing;
- To treat most every mental-health diagnosis of veterans, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorders and substance-use disorders;
- To deliver care by clinicians from multiple VHA mental-health professions and specialties including psychiatrists, psychologists, advanced practice clinical nurse specialists, physician assistants, social workers, RNs, addiction specialists, vocational rehabilitation specialists and trainees;
- To deliver care at multiple VHA sites, including VA medical centers, community-based outpatient clinics, VA residential-care centers, non-VA healthcare facilities, student health centers, homeless shelters, supervised housing sites and patients’ homes; and
- To deliver care through a wide range of VHA technology applications. The majority of telemental health occurs via clinical videoconferencing. This replicates an in-person visit that connects veterans — often physically located at VA clinics or VET Centers — with clinicians at remote VA healthcare sites. Additional technologies expand mental-health treatment into the home, including video, in-home messaging and mobile apps.