HAMPTON, Va. — Patients at the Hampton VA Medical Center, and across the country, don't have to physically go to the doctor's office to get care these days.
Many aren't setting foot there at all during the coronavirus pandemic. They're going virtually, by way of video telehealth appointments.
The VA says virtual visits have increased dramatically, as veterans increasingly chose virtual care through VA Video Connect.
Just from March through May of this year, the Hampton VA has conducted over 8,965 telehealth appointments. That's more than a 9,000% increase from the previous year.
It means more care, for more veterans, more quickly.
"It reaches a vaster number of people in a shorter span of time," said Dr. Usha Subramanian, chief of primary care at the Hampton facility.
During that spring time frame, telehealth was used 43% of the time for specialty care providers, 87% of the time for mental health appointments, and 90% of the time for primary care.
Although it was initially promoted to maintain social distance, Hampton V.A. doctors think even once the cornoavirus crisis is over, telehealth remain a part of standard care. It's that useful of a tool.
"I definitely think we will be using it more and more," said Dr. Marinder Singh, chief of mental health services. "So think about this. For one visit to the doctor, you are spending three hours. So I definitely think this is here to stay."