VA grants for women's health programs expand telehealth efforts

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Women's care with a special emphasis on telehealth is at the forefront of 33 grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to VA facilities. The money will go toward improving emergency healthcare services for female veterans, expanding women's health education programs and offering telehealth programs in rural areas, according to an announcement.

"Our goal is 100 percent accessibility for women Veterans who need our care," VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said. "These new projects will improve access and quality of critical healthcare services for women."

The Veterans Health Administration's national Women's Health Program Office, the Office of Rural Health and the Office of Healthcare Transformation are supporting the winning proposals. Telemental health, telegynecology, telepharmacy and telephone maternity care coordination all received grants--adding to support announced for VA telehealth efforts in September.

The education grants will expand training for VA providers and nurses both in primary care and emergency services. They will include topics such as gynecology and obstetrics emergencies and military sexual trauma. Grants money also will be allocated to upgrade services for women in VA healthcare facilities, with the purchase of gender-specific equipment and supplies and new protocol development, according to the VA.

These initiatives align with previous efforts by the VA to expand telehealth--last year, the VA announced it would waive co-payments on telehealth visits, with a goal of making "the home a preferred place of care" for veterans.

Meanwhile, in 2011, the VA awarded $1.38 billion in telehealth contracts to six IT vendors.

To learn more:
- read the VA announcement

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VA awards $1.38 billion in telehealth contracts

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