The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has finalized a rule which it had proposed in October of 2017 that will amend its medical regulations by standardizing the delivery of care by VA health care providers through telehealth. The new rule will ensure that VA health care providers can offer the same level of care to all beneficiaries, no matter their location. With the implementation of this rule, the VA looks to increase the availability of mental health, specialty and general clinical care to all VA beneficiaries.
This final rule works to clarify that VA health care providers may exercise their authority to provide health care through the use of telehealth, in spite of any State laws, rules, licensure, registration, or certification requirements to the contrary.
According to the VA, some 702,000 veterans, or 12 percent of the country’s veteran population, used telehealth or telemedicine in FY 2016, accounting for 2.17 million telehealth episodes. Of that group, 45 percent were living in rural communities, and this final rule would allow for more VA beneficiaries to gain access to telehealth services. HIMSS will continue to advocate for expansion of telehealth services like this final rule does, so the entire health care community and not just our nation’s veterans can have access to the potential of telehealth services.