Review of Veterans Health Administration’s Use of Telehealth During Pandemic

Center for Connected Health Policy

April 2021

Veteran’s Affairs Office of the Inspector General (OIG) assessed the Veterans Health Administration’s virtual primary care response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From February 7 to June 16, 2020, the Veteran’s Affairs Office of the Inspector General (OIG) assessed the Veterans Health Administration’s virtual primary care response to the COVID-19 pandemic, based upon reviewing primary care encounter data, interviews with VHA leaders, and use of primary care provider questionnaires. In its report, the OIG found that face-to-face primary care visits decreased by 75% and contact by telephone represented 81% of all primary care encounters. In regards to VA Video Connect (VVC), providers stated that not only were there technical complications related to specifically scheduling VVC visits, but many patients didn’t have internet access or the appropriate equipment needed for video calls. The OIG identified the need for additional training and support for veterans and test visits with patients and staff to walk through the process before the visit. In addition, the OIG recommended the Under Secretary for Health evaluate veteran access to reliable internet connectivity necessary for use of VVC and take appropriate action.

Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General: https://www.va.gov/oig/

Veterans Health Administration: https://www.va.gov/health/