America’s military veterans deserve the very best medical services we can provide – and accreditation should play a key role in ensuring they receive the highest possible standard of healthcare, says Dr. Kevin Galpin, executive director, Telehealth Services Office of Connected Care, Veterans Health Administration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“As telehealth becomes an expected component of healthcare, establishing accreditation standards and ensuring they’re met is in everyone’s interest,” Galpin told The URAC Report in an October 25 interview.
Galpin will deliver the keynote address, “VA Telehealth: Anywhere & Everywhere,” at the Telemed Leadership Forum 2018: ROI of Telehealth, March 27-29 in Washington, DC. It’s an event that’s “so exciting and necessary,” Galpin said. “By working together, VA and the telehealth community can discover new ways of delivering effective healthcare anywhere our patients choose to be and everywhere it’s needed.”
The VA is committed to embracing innovative ways to deliver care. “We at VA are determined to bring clinical care to veterans everywhere, and we’ve found great success with the telehealth technologies we already have in place,” he said.
Galpin is no newcomer when it comes to extoling the benefits of telehealth. “Telehealth leverages health informatics, disease management principles, and communications technologies to deliver care and case management to veterans,” he told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health during an August 2016 hearing.
The VA is “recognized as a world leader in the development and use of telehealth, which is now considered mission critical for effectively delivering quality healthcare to Veterans,” Galpin told the subcommittee.
In 2016, the VA treated more than 700,000 patients using telehealth technology, and that number is expected to increase significantly in the coming years as technologies are improved and simplified, Galpin said.
Since 2002, over two million veterans have accessed the VA care through telehealth services. In fiscal year 2015, the VA conducted 2.1 million telehealth visits, reaching more than 677,000 veterans.
However, telehealth technologies alone don’t complete the picture. That’s where accreditation comes in. “The public must be able to trust that they are receiving care from a quality organization, one that adheres to best practices,” Galpin told The URAC Report. “Accrediting bodies not only set optimal standards – they also build the body of knowledge for all of us who share the goal of happy and healthy patients.”
While much has already been accomplished, the sky’s the limit for telehealth, Galpin said. “We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of telehealth’s uses and capabilities. Personally, I think the future is right now for telehealth.”
Galpin urges healthcare providers to engage patients by looking at new ways to connect and serve those patients where they live. “If healthcare organizations don’t start now, they’ll be forced to start later, a risky approach in my view.”