New VA Proposed Rule Would Increase Telehealth Access

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has long been a leader in the use of telehealth and remote monitoring to treat its patients. Indeed, in 2015, the agency’s providers completed more than 2.1 million telehealth visits, 45 percent of which were with rural patients. And in August, the agency announced its telehealth-focused “Anywhere to Anywhere VA Health Care” initiative, which is designed to facilitate patient access to care regardless of physical location, including by permitting all VA physicians to treat patients via telehealth across state lines, regardless of where they’re licensed. Now, as Fierce Healthcare and others first reported, the agency has issued a proposed rule that would formally amend current regulations. “This rule would ensure that VA health care providers provide the same level of care to all beneficiaries, irrespective of the state or location in a state of the VA health care provider or the beneficiary,” the proposed rule states.

The rule, published in the Federal Register on October 2, would, per its text, help to achieve the agency’s goal of “standardizing the delivery of care by VA health care providers through telehealth.” What’s more, the agency asserts that permitting VA providers to treat patients across state lines would go a long way toward expanding access to quality care; as the rule states, it would “achieve important Federal interests by increasing the availability of mental health, specialty, and general clinical care for all beneficiaries.” Those interested in providing feedback can submit written comments until early November.

In August, as we reported at the time, VA Secretary David Shulkin joined President Donald Trump at an Anywhere to Anywhere rollout event, where Shulkin told audience members that the initiative would facilitate patients’ access to care regardless of their physical location. “We’re removing geography as a barrier so that we can speed up access to veterans and really honor our commitment to them,” he said. Also included in Anywhere to Anywhere are two apps: VA Video Connect and the Veteran Appointment Request (VAR) app. VA Video Connect, per the VA, would allow patients to securely connect with members of their health care team for mobile video visits. As of this month, it should be in use at all VA health facilities. The VAR app, which is not yet available everywhere, will allow veterans to self-schedule appointments.

Click here to read the article from Fierce Healthcare on the VA proposed rule.

Click here to read the VA proposed rule on telehealth. 



  1. Chris Feeley
    Oct 04, 2017

    The proposed rule applies only to VA employees and specifically identifies that VA contractors are not covered under the proposed rule. If the VA truly wanted to afford our vets available quality of care, they would not restrict the delivery of that care to VA employed clinicians or VA Connect. This rule is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough. There will continue to be unacceptable backlogs and wait times as long as veterans’ care of any kind is restricted to VA-employed clinicians or VA mandated platforms.

    • CTeL News
      Oct 10, 2017

      Thank you for sharing this, Chris!

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