With Veterans Day occurring last month, it’s the perfect time of year to reflect on the current and future status of Veteran Healthcare in the United States. While there have been steps made in the right direction, there is still more that needs to be done. To learn more, we connected with Kriste Grau, RN, MSN, MBA and VP of Government + Pediatric Client Services at GetWellNetwork, a digital health company. A retired United States Navy Captain, she shares her insights and perspective on digital health initiatives and the impact technology can have on Veteran care.
How do You Think The MISSION Act Will Impact VA Medical Centers?
The Mission Act is designed to ensure that Veterans have full access to needed Healthcare services. While it is the responsibility of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to manage and provide care for covered Veterans, the Veteran now has the choice to seek care episodically outside the VA network of medical centers.
This change in accessing health services requires new and different strategies for the VA to remain in touch and effectively manage the overall care of the Veteran. It will also be even more important for VA medical centers to compete on the same level as other Healthcare providers in their communities. By transforming the care experience for Veterans through interactive patient care technology, VA medical centers are better equipped to compete based on patient experience and quality performance, while offering the needed resources to remain connected with Veterans throughout their care journey.
How Have You Seen the VA Hospitals You Work With Embrace the “Whole Health” Approach, Meaning Putting an Emphasis on Both Physical and Mental Health?
A growing number of our VA client hospitals have implemented the Whole Health approach, which is a Government program intended to improve overall quality of life by addressing the physical, mental and social health of participating Veterans. There is strong support for the Whole Health program across the community, and interactive patient care technology is a viable option to implement and sustain the program and its guiding principles.
GetWellNetwork’s technology enables interactive patient care delivery in many VA medical centers today, which are used by Veterans, their families and their care teams to engage Veterans in managing their health. GetWellNetwork’s digital health solutions operationalize the concept of Whole Health and provide access to resources for Veterans and their families to actively participate in the Whole Health program, when they are hospitalized and as they transition home.
We are working alongside senior leadership at the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation to capture the vision of Whole Health, and provide resources and tools that personalize and improve the quality of care Veterans receive. We also worked with clinical teams and the designated VA Whole Health Flagship sites to define the eight domains of proactive health and match resources to guide the Veteran in improving the part of their health journeys that they have chosen to focus on. GetWellNetwork also serves to educate Veterans and their families on the concept of Whole Health coaches and encourages them to request one either during hospitalization or outpatient care.
Can You Explain Some of the Digital Health Initiatives that are Having the Biggest Impact on Veteran Healthcare?
Our goal is to provide Veterans with a variety of tools and resources to focus on their selected domains of Whole Health. With this in mind, we have developed solutions to support the Veteran and their care teams by tackling some of the most common issues among the population, including:
- Sleep Hygiene Favorite Space helps Veterans improve their quality of sleep.
- Fall Prevention Pathway educates Veterans about their fall risks and encourages them to call for assistance prior to moving from their bed during hospitalization.
- Pain Education Pathway and Opioid Safety Resources educate Veterans about managing their pain, offering non-pharmacologic methods for a more holistic approach.
- Patient Experience Perception (PxP) sends messages to Veterans during their hospitalization to ask how their care experience is going, in hopes of improving the communication with care providers.
- Discharge Readiness Pathway helps prepare Veterans and their families to transition from hospital to home or the next level of care.
Longer Term, How do You See the Landscape of Veteran Healthcare Changing?
Our vision is that all Veterans will have access to cross-continuum technology solutions to help improve their health and quality of life. This would be achieved through daily messages to remind them of necessary tasks, the importance of good nutrition and ongoing exercise, making social connections and following up on treatment plan regimens. Through a wide range of capability and technological functionality, GetWellNetwork is impacting the care experience for Veterans provided through VA Medical Centers nationwide. The impact of this partnership include:
- Enhancing customer service: VA Medical Centers actively use GetWellNetwork’s Veteran feedback tools to measure the Veteran’s satisfaction with their care experience in 8 domain areas. This real time feedback enables the care team to rapidly intervene and address any needs or concerns the Veteran may have during their stay in the Medical Center.
- Align with the MISSION Act implementation: GetWellNetwork provides a easy to use, Veteran facing technology solution that ensures the Veteran has access to the information, resources and care management tools needed to improve overall quality of life and advance their experience in using VA health care services.
- Support the Veteran in fulfilling their Personal Health Plan. VHA’s Whole Health Program encourages and supports Veterans in establishing a personalized health plan that defines what is important in life, why their health is needed to achieve those goals and the tools to manage their health regardless of the care setting. GetWellNetwork offers solutions that allow care providers to remain in touch and to communicate, support and prescribe interventions for the Veteran regardless of where they are in their health journey.
We want to provide our Veterans with easy access to care providers for questions around their care plans and the ability to book and manage appointments online. If scheduled for a medical appointment or procedure, we’d want an individual to be sent a text message, not only reminding them and asking them to confirm, but also enrolling them into a ‘care loop’ to help them prepare for the particular visit. For residents in VA community living centers, we hope our technology would continue to provide a platform to keep the Veteran connected to their families and fellow residents, along with focusing on mobility safety, fall and infection prevention.
In 2020, we plan to continue to advance our partnership with VHA in an effort to further support and assist VA Medical Centers in providing world-class customer service and improved care outcomes for Veterans.
GetWellNetwork is a digital health company based in Bethesda, Maryland. Its solutions engage patients and families, empower clinicians and deliver outcomes that matter. From inpatient to outpatient, to physician practices and urgent care clinics, to patients on the go, the company offers the only cross-continuum platform that performs across every care setting.