VA, American Well team to bring in-home telehealth to veterans

Boston-based Doc-on-demand provider American Well just snagged a contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the company announced last week.

The VA, despite a half-decade of telemedicine research and implementation of its own, has chosen the vendor to provide telehealth--via text chat, online video or phone calls--directly to veterans in their homes. One factor that may have influenced the choice: American Well just won the VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2) Industry Innovation competition.

The partnership starts out in the VA's sweet spot--mental health. The Minneapolis VA Health Care System will work with American Well to create a behavioral health practice to provide video consults for veterans who can't easily reach the facility, officials say.

It's a bit of a twist on the existing VA model, where patients must travel to a VA facility, and then are connected to a distant physician for a tele-visit. Under the American Well Online Care program, VA patients will have online access to their own physicians in their own homes.

In two more unique moves, the VA and American Well are creating:

  • Online oncology consults: The Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System will use American Well's technology to create an online oncology practice. Specialists from the Omaha VA Medical Center will connect with cancer patients in rural or remote areas.
  • Online post-op care: Also at Nebraska-Western, surgeons can use telehealth to provide post-op care to the patient, and collaborate with home care and other extended-care providers.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- check out coverage from the New England Post