VA partners with T-Mobile in healthcare expansion push for veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has linked up with mobile service provider T-Mobile to improve access to healthcare for veterans through telehealth.

Under the partnership, T-Mobile will provide 70,000 lines of wireless service to make telehealth more accessible. The access could help veterans who typically drive an average of 25 to 50 miles for healthcare visits, according to the VA. The agency operates the largest integrated healthcare system in the country, and has outpaced the broader healthcare system in its use of telehealth, according to previous research.

The agreement with T-Mobile is part of the U.S. Navy’s telecommunications contract that is worth nearly $1 billion over five years.

The VA is also reportedly in talks with Apple to give military veterans more access to their electronic health records.

The wireless service from T-Mobile will be provided to VA doctors, nurses, social workers and crisis hotline staff across VA healthcare facilities.

“Deploying this type of service across all of our locations not only connects VHA staff with the people and data they need, it makes them more accessible to our veterans as well,” Steven Lieberman, MD, executive in charge, Veterans Health Administration, said in a statement. “Whether it’s at a medical center, a community clinic or via the VA Video Connect telemedicine platform, our ongoing goal is to improve patient outcomes by reaching veterans wherever they are.”

Currently, VA operates 1,243 healthcare facilities, including 172 VA medical centers and 1,062 outpatient clinics across the nation. The agency serves more than 9 million enrolled veterans annually. The network services could help boost access to care in rural areas via telehealth services.