VA Tests Teleconference Training for Primary-care Docs

Rich Daly | | July 11, 2012

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department is testing a new take on telemedicine at 11 sites across the country. The three-year, $15 million pilot program, called Specialty Care Access Network-Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, aims to train VA primary-care physicians to provide specialty medical care to veterans living in rural settings where specialists are scare. If successful, such Internet-based specialty training for primary-care physicians could be rolled out throughout the VA system, according to VA officials.

The program uses one-and-a-half hour weekly video conference training sessions for primary-care physicians. Sessions are led by panels of medical specialists in select areas of medicine. The training uses specific cases to simulate the training that physician specialists receive.

The aim of the program is to serve as a "force multiplier" that allows the same number of physicians to treat a larger number of patients by expanding primary-care physicians' knowledge of select specialty areas of medicine...