New technology available for patients at Amarillo VA Health Care System

    VA Video Connect is helpful for veterans because they often drive from far away to get to appointments at the VA (ABC 7 Amarillo - Morgan Burrell).

    New technology at the Amarillo VA Health Care System is offering veterans better and quicker access to medical treatment.

    Veterans now will be able to chat with health care professionals via video chat.

    Hospital officials in Amarillo said VA Video Connect began in the mental health services department, but it has recently expanded into the general care division.

    "It allows people who are home bound due to medical reasons to be able to get access to mental health care," said Nathan Bradley, a clinical social worker at the VA hospital in Amarillo. "The biggest reason that this app was created is just for better access to mental health services, to try to reduce some of the crises that occur."

    VA Video Connect allows what would be a face-to-face consultation to happen over video. This type of technology is helpful for veterans because they often drive from far away to get to appointments at the VA.

    When the day comes, the clinician and veteran log into the VA Video app and begin their scheduled meeting.

    "It helps us out because we get to have that chance to show our veterans that no matter what, we want to be there for them," said Elmer Whitson, the primary care mental health scheduling supervisor at the Amarillo VA hospital. "Be it a video appointment, or be it a to face-to-face appointment, we're willing to work with them, put them at the center of the process."

    Whitson said the VA in Amarillo is working on a way to help patients who may not have the technology to connect to health care professionals via the VA Video Connect app.

    "If the provider is going, 'Hey, I'd like to try this connect appointment with you make it easier for you.' And the veteran goes, 'I don't have any of that type of technology at my house.' The provider can get with our Telehealth Network Services here at the facility and get a device that's capable of that to have the patients being seen that way," Whitson said.

    The VA in Amarillo also has their own patient portal called My HealtheVet, where patients can schedule their own appointments.

    The ability to schedule your own appointment is one of the newest features of the My HealtheVet.

    "It really has helped veterans know that they can go in there into their My HealtheVet account, click be schedule my my VA appointment and it gives them the calendar of the appointments are actually available in the times," said Esmeralda Silvestre, the My HealtheVet coordinator.

    Whitson said patients still have an opportunity to call and schedule any appointments that they want to make. The Amarillo VA call center is rated as five stars.

    "We need to get each call handled appropriately, but still in a timely manner to let the next veteran that might be waiting on that line a couple for a seconds to get their needs taken care of through the call center," Whitson said.

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