“In the pre-COVID-19 world, nearly all health care was delivered in person within brick-and-mortar facilities. Telehealth, referred to in the Department of Defense as virtual health or VH, was a promise of the future—a capability whose time had not quite yet arrived. VH, in those pre-pandemic days, and years, was relegated to pilot demonstrations and to specific specialties such as behavioral health delivered in limited settings.”
“As with so many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped away long-held health care delivery practices and assumptions. Questions stopped being about if or even when VH would “take off” and started to be about how to maximize VH’s scope and reach in as short of a timeframe as possible. Mirroring the rest of the health care field, DOD rapidly scaled up VH capabilities, guidance, training, procedures, and provider and beneficiary communication and education. Over a period of weeks, the result was a multi-fold increase in overall VH capacity that supported basic clinical services across the DOD enterprise.”
“From a VH perspective, the pre-COVID-19 world is likely gone. VH as a core health care capability is here to stay. The Military Health System’s path forward can build upon COVID-19 and pre-existing efforts to develop enterprise VH capabilities that connect service members and their families to optimal health care—wherever and whenever it is needed.”
“To achieve this goal, it is important to realize that VH is not a single technology or business platform, or even group of platforms. Rather, it is about people, processes, and technologies working together across the entire MHS to create health care access solutions on behalf of our 9.6 million beneficiaries around the world.”
“The MHS is leveraging the experiences and workflows developed rapidly in response to COVID-19 to catalyze transformational change in enterprise use of VH. Coordination among multiple key stakeholders is essential and already underway to develop sustainable solutions that meet real MHS-wide needs.”
“These stakeholders include:
- The newly emerging Defense Health Agency markets—regional clusters of MHS military medical treatment facilities
- An enterprise-wide Virtual Medical Center
- A variety of DHA headquarters offices, including the DHA Connected Health Branch’s Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office
- The TRICARE private sector care network
- The military services and interagency partners such as the Department of Veterans Affairs…” Read the full article here.
Source: Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health – By Jamie Adler, January 14, 2021. Health.mil.