Using Telehealth to Improve Access to Specialty Care - Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center | Martinsburg, WV

One of 150 medical centers operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Martinsburg VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., has been treating military veterans since 1944. In addition to its main facility, Martinsburg offers medical care through its seven community-based outpatient clinics that serve 22 counties in Western Maryland, West Virginia, South Central Pennsylvania, and Northwest Virginia.

Located 90 miles from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Martinsburg is a relatively rural medical center. Several of its community outpatient clinics are situated in even more remote areas, located two hours from the main facility. Thus, to improve access to care, Martinsburg instituted a telemedicine program in 2004 that has evolved over the years.

The organization’s initial foray into virtual health care was the creation of a home telehealth service.“Health buddies” visit veterans in their homes to administer and record simple diagnostic information and communicate it back to providers. In 2011, Martinsburg’s program grew with the introduction of video telehealth used for retinal imaging. Although it is not a live diagnostic tool, tele-retinal technology records, stores, and transfers a digital image that can be examined later by a provider.

Soon after implementing the retinal program, Martinsburg entered the realm of “face-to-screen,” real-time telehealth by adding tele-podiatry and tele-mental health services.

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