Do you know what the largest healthcare system is in the US? If you guessed it’s the military, you’re correct. The Veterans Administration oversees the well-being of nine million veterans and their families each year through its Veterans Health Administration. Learn about the Cabinet-level department, its unique healthcare system, and how modernization efforts like new EHR and medical computers can benefit veterans and their sometimes unique needs. 

Benefits a Veteran is Entitled to by the VA

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, informally known as the Veterans Administrations or VA, aims to provide health care and related services to eligible veterans of the armed forces. Primary care for checkups, specialized care like ICU and nutrition counseling, and related medical services like dental are just a few of the health benefits available at the 171 VA-run medical centers and 1,113 outpatient sites as well as other facilities.  

Other veterans affairs benefits include:

  • Disability compensation
  • Disability housing grants for Veterans
  • Life insurance
  • Pension plan
  • Support for Veteran-owned businesses by the Small Business Administration

VA benefits concerning health issues are administered by the Veterans Health Administration or VHA. 

What the Veterans Health Administration Does

The VHA operates the various clinics and nursing home programs as directed by the VA. Unlike the private sector, the VA owns the clinics, hospitals, and medical centers. Staff from providers to cleaning services are employees of the VA. This makes the VHA the largest healthcare system in the U.S. if not the world. Unlike private systems, veterans do not pay premiums or deductibles for use of their VA benefits. 

There is a health insurance program similar to the private sector available for veterans. The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, or CHAMPVA, covers veterans’ payments to private providers and non-VA health facilities. Veterans who quality usually have suffered some form of permanent injury and are totally disabled because of it.  

The offered health benefits are virtually identical to those offered in the private sector. 

  • Emergency care
  • Fertility
  • Flu shots
  • Foreign medical care
  • General community healthcare
  • Home health and hospice care
  • Native American healthcare
  • Urgent Care

Two veterans affairs benefits unique are Transition and Case Management and the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP). 

  • Transition and Case Management is designed to help veterans to adjust to civilian life. This can range for continued treatment from physical injuries sustained during service like head trauma or loss of limbs, to mental issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Intimate Partner Violence Prevention is a program dealing with various forms of abuse between former or current partners like boyfriends, girlfriends, casual relationships, married couples, etc. “Abuse” that’s dealt with under the program can range from mental, physical, to sexual. 

Another military healthcare program occasionally mentioned alongside the VHA is the Military Health System, or MHS. It covers military personnel while on active duty. The VHA and MHS are separate and distinct from each other, with the latter run under the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). 

Who is Eligible for Care With the Veterans Health Administration

According to the VA, any veteran who served time on active duty can qualify for veterans affairs benefits. This includes reserve members and the National Guard. What specific benefits are offered depend on their length of service, number of days spent on active duty orders, and service commitment among others. 

However, the veteran must have left the military with “Honorable”, “Other Than Honorable”, or “General” discharge. Veterans who are dishonorably discharged do not qualify.

A veteran’s spouse or dependent child may qualify for certain veterans affairs benefits:  

  • Funeral costs
  • Healthcare 
  • Life Insurance
  • Survivor compensation

Caretakers of a disabled veteran may also be provided for. 

VA Modernization Plan with Electronic Health Records

In 2015, the DOD awarded healthcare IT giant Cerner Corp. a multi-billion dollar contract to update its electronic health record system. The VA followed suit a couple of years later with its Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) initiative. 

While Cerner works to fulfill the deal, VA medical clinics and hospitals should consider other modern features for healthcare IT like:

  • Increased usage of hospital computers systems. Besides being optimized for Cerner’s EHR system, medical computers are certified to operate safely near patients (medical grade) and function despite repeated cleanings (fanless design, IP65 rated seal). 
  • Allow a patient kiosk, run by a medical box PC, to process veterans’ personal and medical information while improving desk staff’s efficiency. 
  • Security features like Imprivata Single Sign On Certification and a built-in Smart card reader. These make sure patient information is kept confidential. 

Closing Thoughts

Over 16 million Americans are serving or have served in the US armed forces. The Veterans Administrations handles the health and well-being of 9 million of these veterans as well as their loved ones through the Veteran Health Administration. 

Contact an expert at Cybernet if you’re with the VHA and are interested in finding ways medical computers and tablets can help meet your goals in addressing your patients’ health needs. 

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