From his bedside in suburban Northern Virginia, Iraq War Veteran, Joseph "Jay" Briseno, Jr., can receive a comprehensive examination from his team of clinical specialists. His new Telehealth unit uses a broadband camera and video conferencing technology allowing his VA care team to keep tabs on everything from the condition of his skin to the settings on his ventilator. Telehealth, remote health care technology, is an important lifeline for Jay and his family, providing a real-time link to his health care team some 30 miles away at the VA Medical Center.
In 2003, while serving in Iraq, Jay was shot in the back of the neck at point blank range. The fateful shot changed his life forever causing paralysis and ultimately blindness and brain injury. Jay resides in his VA modified family home and gets his health care from the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C. (DCVAMC).
More than 400 Veterans currently participate in DCVAMC's Care Coordination Home Telehealth program, giving them direct connections to their health providers through the use of Telehealth devices installed in their homes. Many units are used by Veterans to enter information such as blood pressure, weight and results of their home glucose tests, which allow their physicians to monitor their health. These devices electronically transmit vital data to the care team. Some patients use a video phone to communicate with their care providers. These systems are especially useful to people with mobility issues that restrict travel and those with chronic conditions that require regular monitoring.
In Briseno's case, the two-way video Telehealth unit brings his team of specialists into his home to remotely monitor his condition. As he must travel by ambulance each time he visits the Medical Center, this Telehealth unit assists in gauging the necessity of putting him and his family through the ordeal of preparing him for the trip. His parents, Eva Marie and Joseph, Sr., are thankful to VA staff who shepherded the project. They also support wider use of this technology.
"I believe practicing Telemedicine and remote monitoring is an incredible backstop for homebound Veterans," said Joseph Briseno, Sr. "It prevents costly hospitalization and disruption of the Veteran's life." Similar technology is used in VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics nationwide, bringing specialty care closer to home for many Veterans.
The VA Office of Telehealth Services, directed by Dr. Adam Darkins, worked with Tandberg and VA's own technical team to create a Telehealth unit specifically for Jay Briseno's special needs. "This is an exciting innovation which gets to the heart of what VA is about – providing the right care, in the right place at the right time," Darkins said.
Telehealth technology can make a world of difference to seriously injured or ill Veterans and their Caregivers. Not only does it provide crucial clinical services right at home, but cutting the need for travel adds vital minutes back into a Caregiver's schedule. To learn more about telehealth or explore your options for the technology, contact your local Caregiver Support Coordinator, who you can find here on our Help Near Home page.