Polytrauma/TBI System of Care
Maximizing Veteran’s Access to Health Care
By Patricia Young
Tuesday, July 6, 2021The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is national leader in maximizing Veteran’s access to health care. Virtual care delivery expanded dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed VA to stay connected to Veterans with Amputations and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
VA’s Amputation System of Care (ASoC) is an integrated, national healthcare delivery system providing patient-centered, lifelong, and holistic care for Veterans and Servicemembers living with limb loss. A program since 2009, the Amputation System of Care adopted telehealth technologies early on and seamlessly pivoted to providing amputation care services via virtual care platforms during the pandemic.
In FY20, 32% of Veterans living with limb loss who received care in an outpatient VA amputation specialty clinic had at least one virtual visit. In the first six months of FY21, 35% of Veterans who received care in an outpatient VA amputation specialty clinic have participated in at least one virtual care visit. The ASoC continues to be a leader in the use of virtual care and embraces opportunities to use emerging virtual care modalities such as the Annie App and the My VA Images App, to enhance the quality of and access to Amputation Specialty care.
VA’s Polytrauma System of Care (PSC) is the largest nationwide integrated network of specialized rehabilitation programs for Veterans and Service members with Traumatic Brain Injury and polytrauma. PSC is designed to ensure coordinated access to a continuum of rehabilitation services, case management, family/caregiver education and support, psychosocial services, and community re-integration assistance. PSC encompasses 123 programs organized in a four-tier hub and spokes model that facilities access to the appropriate level of care at the right time and location.
Since its inception 16 years ago, PSC adopted technological advancements to support access to care and care coordination through its Polytrauma Telehealth Network. In FY20 and FY21, PSC teams served a critical role in expanding access to care and mitigating the impact of the COVID pandemic by using virtual care to provide safe alternatives to in person hospital visits and to reach out to Veterans and their families isolated in their communities or recovering at home.
Recent data confirms successful use of virtual care to support access to TBI rehabilitation: in FY20, 32% of Veterans living with TBI received care virtually; as of June 2021, 57% of Veterans with TBI received care through virtual modalities.