E-Consults Help Veterans ‘Speak’ to their Providers


by Alysse Mengason, Detroit VAMC Public Affairs


At the Detroit VA Medical Center, there are now 30 different specialties that have E consults available. E consults are just one of many different ways of delivering quality health care.

While much of the nation is still enjoying the final few weeks of summer, President Obama has declared the week of August 15th as Rural Health Week. And, like all departments, this is an opportunity for the Department of Veterans Affairs to highlight all of our health care initiatives that aren’t necessarily brick and mortar operations. Secretary Eric Shinseki will travel to Las Vegas and Omaha this week to host Rural Roundtables that will focus on informing Veterans of VA’s rural initiatives and listen to their concerns.

According to VA statistics, 41 percent of all Veterans live in rural or highly rural areas, many of which are far from VA medical centers or COBCs. Since 2007, the Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Rural Health has been developing and implementing solutions to provide rural Veterans with greater access to health care.

Here in Detroit, most of our Veteran population is no more than 60 minutes from the downtown medical center; still, access can be a challenge in certain situations. That’s where E-Consults come in. Electronic Consultation is a relatively new option for specialist care that’s being implemented by the VA’s Office of Specialty Care Transformation, as an alternative to traveling to see a specialist in the traditional face-to-face clinic visit. This can save time and travel for the Veteran, and reduce wait time for appointments and consult results.

“An E consult can be done for issues that don’t require a face to face clinic visit and consists of advice that can be given primarily by a chart review,” said Dr. Barbara Siepierski, Associate Chief of Staff, Geriatrics. “E consults can be used to answer Veteran or provider questions about short term diagnostic and therapeutic issues, to better prepare a Veteran for a face to face visit with a specialist, and for a primary care provider and specialist to manage a chronic disease.”

Here in Detroit, there are now 30 different specialties that have E consults available. E consults are just one of many different ways of delivering quality health care that include the (PACT) Patient Aligned Care Team, secure messaging, group visits, video conferencing, tele-health, telemedicine, and case management.

The Detroit VA Medical Center is one of several pilot sites for the Electronic Consultation program.


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