Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
GCVHCS Issues iPads for Video Connect Visits
BILOXI, Miss. – More than 400 iPads configured with mobile applications designed to ensure continuity of care during the ongoing global pandemic have been distributed by the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) through June 25.
The iPads, featuring the department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Video Connect, Mindfulness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Coach apps, have been issued to some Veterans as part of the organization’s telehealth initiative, an ongoing endeavor to provide virtual care when applicable to Veterans receiving medical care at any of the VA medical centers or outpatient clinics throughout the United States. The internet capable devices come pre-loaded with VA-specific mobile applications such as VA Video Connect and cannot be modified.
VA Video Connect, a mobile application designed to provide an alternative to a traditional visit to a Veteran’s health care team, is providing both GCVHCS staff and Veterans – particularly those living a significant distance from their VA healthcare facility – the opportunity to remotely continue their healthcare.
“This technology gives Veterans the chance to participate in remote medical appointments with their provider,” said GCVHCS Facility Telehealth Coordinator Michelle Wilkerson. “Using the [mobile] app, a Veteran can either chat or have a video consultation with their healthcare team or provider from almost anywhere.”
Wilkerson added that GCVHCS employees have provided nearly 1,400 VA Video Connect visits since March 2019, serving more than 500 different Veterans receiving healthcare within the organization’s area – from Biloxi, Mississippi, to Panama City Beach, Florida.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced in June that the use of VA Video Connect has supported a more than 1000 percent increase in video visits directly to Veterans homes or other place of choice during the ongoing global pandemic. Between February and May, video visits to Veterans homes increased from 10,000 to more than 127,000 per week during the last week in May.
According to Wilkerson, VA Video Connect appointments are possible throughout the variety of services GCVHCS offers.
“97 percent of our primary care providers and 72 percent of our mental health providers have completed a Video Connect visit,” she said. “Other specialty services such as Nutrition, Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Chaplain, Hepatology and Social Work Services have also provided Video Connect appointments.”
Wilkerson added that some appointments a Veteran might need will require a traditional visit to the Biloxi VA Medical Center or one of the community based outpatient clinics in Mobile, Alabama; or Pensacola, Eglin or Panama City, Florida, but stressed that for routine visits, the VA Video Connect capability is something about which Veterans should inquire.
“Not every Veteran visit is something which can be handled through VA Video Connect,” Wilkerson said. “But for Veterans who live far from their healthcare facility and for an appointment during which a hands-on physical examination isn’t required, this service can be an extremely viable alternative.”
Leveraging existing technology in an effort to ensure the continuity of care for Veterans – particularly during uncertain times – represents the cornerstone of GCVHCS efforts, according to Wilkerson.
“Our mission is to provide our Veterans the best healthcare we’re able,” she said. “Using technology to make a Veterans appointment easier and faster without substituting the quality of care we strive to employ is another method through which the GCVHCS can further serve the Veterans in our area.”
Veterans interested in learning more about telehealth options are encouraged to contact the GCVHCS.
The Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, along with the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City VA Clinics are all part of the GCVHCS, which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 70,000 Veterans.