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Interview: Lessons from a Leader in Telehealth Diffusion: Interview with Adam Darkins of the Veterans Health Administration

2010 | Download

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is one of the world leaders in using telehealth to promote independent living for its patient population. The VHA’s model uses a care coordinator who supports and monitors a panel of 100–150 patients, with a focus on empowering patients to take roles in self-management.

VHA’s telehealth program has resulted in successful outcomes including patient satisfaction and reductions in bed days of care and hospital admissions. Programs like this, and the strategic and operational considerations in their implementation, can be used as models by nongovernmental health systems interested in adopting telehealth solutions to address their patients needs.

Read the interview.

This article provides an overview of the Veterans Health Administration's telehealth program through an interview between PHI's David Lindeman, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Technology and Aging and Adam Darkins, M. D., MPMH, FRCS, Chief Consultant for Care Coordination Services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

Adam Darkins, M.D., MPMH, FRCS, identifies key drivers that have led to the organization’s successful implementation of telehealth for patients with chronic illnesses: dedicated senior leadership, the presence of an electronic health record, operational innovation, and a desire to avoid higher-cost institutional care for patients.

Looking forward, Dr. Darkins expects that telehealth will continue to create an environment in which people are motivated, engaged, and feel responsible for their own health. Dr. Darkins stresses that the opportunity is not in making more advanced technological breakthroughs, but rather in consolidating what is currently available and developing a coherent strategic vision for the future of health care. The VHA’s success in telehealth implementation is a result of the organization’s ability to connect its vision, strategy, and technology; this success can serve as a blueprint for the nation as it moves forward on health technology adoption.