Source: VA’s Telehealth Clinic for Cancer Care Is the First in the Nation. A program in Pennsylvania that uses telehealth to bring cancer care management and chemotherapy treatment to veterans living in rural Pennsylvania is reportedly the first of its kind in the US.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant strides in telehealth and mHealth adoption over the past few years, in everything from mHealth apps to virtual visits and telehealth stations in remote and retail locations.
Now the VA is gaining praise for a new telehealth service: the country’s first remote chemotherapy clinic.
The program is based in Pennsylvania, and links the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona with the VA Pittsburgh Medical Center, some 100 miles away. Using telemedicine technology, oncologists at the Pittsburgh hospital have been delivering cancer care and chemotherapy treatment to veterans at the clinic for about a year.
“Patients and caregivers tell me, ‘We love this technology because it saves us so much travel, time, and money,’” Vida Passero, MD, an oncologist and head of the VA Pittsburgh Health System’s Hematology and Oncology Division, said in the news story provided by the VA.
With some 40,000 new cancer cases among veterans being reported each year – and percentages rising as veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq enter the mix – cancer care management is rising to the top of an increasingly more complex list of services offered by the nation’s VA health system. Up until recently, that care was almost exclusively delivered in person.
But with many of the nation’s 2.6 million veterans living in remote locations, dealing with mobility or transportation issues or simply hesitant to travel to the nearest hospital, the nation’s largest health system has been moving to embrace connected health. The number of veterans accessing healthcare through telehealth jumped 17 percent from 2018 to 2019, while virtual visits made through the VA’s Video Connect App jumped 235 percent.