New sched­ul­ing ser­vice un­veiled for vet­er­ans

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVE BOYER

Pres­i­dent Trump and Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Sec­re­tary David Shulkin un­veiled a new ser­vice for vet­er­ans Thurs­day that will al­low pa­tients to sched­ule health care ap­point­ments from their smart­phones or com­put­ers.

The Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Tele­health Ser­vices is now avail­able on a mo­bile app with the aim of making it eas­ier for vet­er­ans to ob­tain as many as 50 health care ser­vices, from den­tistry to der­ma­tol­ogy.

“This will sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand ac­cess to care for our vet­er­ans, es­pe­cially those who need help in the area of men­tal health,” Mr. Trump said at the White House. “It will make a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence for the vet­er­ans in ru­ral lo­ca­tions, in par­tic­u­lar.”

In an ap­par­ent dig at his pre­de­ces­sor, Pres­i­dent Obama, Mr. Trump said the tech­nol­ogy has been avail­able for years, “but, un­for­tu­nately, we have not taken ad­van­tage of that un­til now.”

Mr. Shulkin said the new ser­vice al­lows health care providers to use mo­bile de­vices to con­nect with vet­er­ans on their own mo­bile de­vices or home com­put­ers.

“We’re re­mov­ing reg­u­la­tions that have pre­vented us from do­ing this. We’re re­mov­ing ge­og­ra­phy as a bar­rier,” Mr. Shulkin said.

On a video link at the White House, the pres­i­dent and Mr. Shulkin con­versed with a Coast Guard vet­eran in Ore­gon who was vis­it­ing a doc­tor’s of­fice for a skin prob­lem. They showed Mr. Trump a close-up of the pa­tient’s skin on the video screen.

“Looked pretty good to me, what do I know?” the pres­i­dent joked.

“You look very healthy to me,” he told the vet­eran. Then he told the doc­tors, “Please make sure his skin is per­fect, OK?”

About 700,000 vet­er­ans ob­tained health care last year via tele­health ser­vices, but Mr. Shulkin said the mo­bile tech­nol­ogy will greatly ex­pand vet­er­ans’ op­tions.

Mr. Shulkin said the new ser­vice will not nec­es­sar­ily im­prove a vet­eran’s abil­ity to see a doc­tor sooner, de­pend­ing on their lo­ca­tion.

“There are plenty of med­i­cal cen­ters that have easy ac­cess, and there are some that still are strug­gling be­cause of short­ages of health care pro­fes­sion­als,” he said.


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