WASHINGTON, July 30 – Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today joined the Department of Veterans Affairs at an exhibit of cutting-edge medical technology that is improving treatment and expanding access to care for million veterans throughout the country.
Dr. Robert Petzel, VA’s undersecretary for health, said VA medical centers are in the forefront of what he predicted will be an “explosion” in computer and communications technology that lets patients and doctors interact more efficiently and effectively.
“The VA, in my view, is doing an extremely good job taking advantage of modern technology in a very aggressive way to provide high-quality and cost-effective health care to their patients,” Sanders said. “This is an extremely important breakthrough because it significantly improves access to health care, especially in rural areas, like my home state of Vermont.”
Secure telecommunications technology at the VA medical center at White River Junction, Vt., was one the innovative programs featured in the exhibit at the National Press Club. “Many veterans really like the convenience,” Dr. Lanier Summerall, the psychiatrist who is the chief of mental health services at the White River Junction VA told Sanders and Petzel.
The Home Telehealth technology uses a computer link to connect doctors and other health care providers with veterans in their homes. The technology saves time and expenses for travel and care in the treatment of chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and chronic respiratory disease.
“Telehealth knocks down one of the barriers to treatment by bringing care to the veteran, rather than the veteran having to travel for care,” Sanders said. “Doctors and nurses can literally keep tabs on the daily progress of their patients without the need for an office visit. This is proving to be very effective, from both the clinical and cost perspective, while giving veterans some peace of mind.”