Background: The Veterans Administration (VA) has been using telehealth to enhance Veteran access to high quality VA care for over a decade. Clinical video telehealth (CVT) is one such telehealth tool that allows Veterans the opportunity to be evaluated by specialists at the Indianapolis VA while they actually remain in their community (in their local healthcare setting). Such tools are reported to improve satisfaction by avoiding the need to make the long, stressful, and often costly trips to the Medical Center. Our goal is to describe the results of CVT implementation at the Indianapolis VA. Methods: A retrospective review of the data from 2011-2014 related to the use of CVT at the Indianapolis VA was undertaken. The data collected during this time period included: the number of CVT visits per year by specialty, the number of miles in travel avoided per visit, and patient satisfaction survey data, which are obtained after each CVT visit. Results: A total of 14,708 Veterans have enrolled in our CVT telehealth program since 2011. There were 23,267 visits in 2013. 486,170 miles related to travel were avoided (calculating the number of miles avoided in travel from home to a local satellite site as compared to having to travel from home to the Indianapolis VA). At the current Government reimbursement rate of $0.42/mile, this is expressed in a cost avoidance of $209,053. In total, since 2011, the telehealth CVT program has saved the Government $331,132, a total of 770,075 miles saved in travel for our Veterans. In addition, the CVT program has been very well received by our Veterans with an overall satisfaction score of 96%. Conclusion: Our results indicate that the implementation of CVT is cost effective and is well received by Veterans. Telehealth modalities such as CVT are viable options that enhance Veteran satisfaction by decreasing the time and the costs related to travel while continuing to offer high quality health care.
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