by Mary Dillinger, Public Affairs Officer, Northern Arizona VA Health Care System
Northern Arizona VA Health Care System is proud to serve our nation’s veterans in a catchment area covering more than 65,000 square miles. This vast territory includes our main facility in Prescott, five Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) in Anthem, Cottonwood, Flagstaff, Kingman and Lake Havasu City; three telehealth clinics in Holbrook, Tuba City and Page; and Indian Health Service clinic agreements in Chinle, Polacca and Kayenta.
Some of NAVAHCS’ clinics are in highly rural areas of northern Arizona, and offering virtual appointment options for veterans has been a VA priority for years beginning with telehealth over a decade ago. Telehealth is set up for Veterans at the main hospital and CBOCs.
The veteran uses Clinical Video Telehealth, which is a portable device on a cart with a computer and monitor. The veteran can be in Prescott and the provider might be in Texas, California or even on the East Coast. The CVT appointments are for primary care, mental health and even some specialty services. When the veteran arrives at the hospital or clinic, a nurse will take the patient’s vital signs and then the nurse will connect the patient to the provider through CVT.
VA continues to make advancements in technology and in 2017, VA Video Connect was established. VVC allows veterans to have virtual appointments with their providers without leaving their homes. VVC is set up through a desktop computer, laptop, iPad or smartphone. If a veteran does not have a device, the VA provides it. T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon have partnered with VA to provide free data usage for veterans when they use VVC for their appointments.
“If a veteran is not tech-savvy, they need not worry,” said Michelle Key, RN and telehealth coordinator at NAVAHCS. “We have staff who can assist veterans with setting up their devices for their appointments. The process is simple and at no cost to the veteran.”
VVC is free and if a veteran usually has a co-pay for their appointment that payment is waived when they use VVC. During the COVID-19 pandemic more veterans have signed up for VVC and have expressed their happiness with the service.
Many of the veterans who signed up for VVC appointments during COVID-19 have opted to continue their care through VVC. In the near future, NAVAHCS will expand virtual specialty services and is even establishing an entire virtual primary care team.
VA also offers MyHealtheVet, which is a patient portal that allows veterans to view their upcoming appointments online, order refills of their medication and even send secure messages to their team.
“More than 44 percent of our enrolled veterans are using MyHealtheVet,” said Tim Howe, MyHealtheVet coordinator at NAVAHCS. “Sending a secure message to your team through MyHealtheVet is the quickest way to communicate with your provider. Most veterans will hear back from their VA provider within one to two days.”
MyHealtheVet is a smartphone app, and you can sign up at www.myhealthevet.va.gov. If an enrolled veteran is interested in using telehealth or VVC, please contact your team through MyHealtheVet or NAVAHCS’s telehealth coordinator at (928) 445-4860, ext. 5396.
Thank you for choosing VA and we look forward to serving you in person and virtually.
Photo: Michelle Key, RN & telehealth coordinator at NAVAHCS, using VA Video Connect in her office.