House bill pushes Telehealth expansion for veterans

Eric Wicklund | Government Health IT | November 19, 2013

A new bill [The 21st Century Care for Military & Veterans Act] sponsored by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) hopes to encourage the use of telehealth for veterans by expanding current telehealth reimbursement policies.

The VA, which launched telehealth services in 2003, has seen a 40 percent reduction in bed days and 87 percent reduction of annual per-patient costs when compared to other care programs, according to VA studies.

Speaking at last year's Partners HealthCare Connected Health Symposium in Boston, Adam Darkins, MD, the VA's chief consultant for telehealth services, anticipated that some 825,000 veterans would be served through telehealth by the end of 2013.

"This is about a very different kind of healthcare," he said at the time. "This is about connecting with people in a different way."