On May 11, 2018, the VA published a final rule, allowing VA care providers to see patients via telehealth, no matter where the patient or doctor are located. This is a significant step forward in eliminating barriers to telehealth services for veterans. Telehealth services are sometimes limited by patient and/or doctor location - such as only allowing for telehealth services from approved sites, instead of letting patients connect from their own homes. Removing this limitation makes accessing telehealth services much easier.
The VA ruling sets an important precedent and provides an example of a path forward for other institutions/healthcare systems that might want to also remove location-based restrictions on telehealth services. We are hopeful that this type of change will be implemented by other systems. Once patients can access telehealth services from anywhere, the full benefits of telehealth can begin being realized - by patients, providers, and healthcare organizations.
Helen Nichols, PhD, MSW