The Veterans Health Administration system is one of the widespread and the most integrated healthcare providers in the USA, with over 9 million veterans. One of the major barriers that were identified included geographical limitations and extended wait time.
Telehealth is the finest solution by the health care services but is not common for cancer care. In 2018, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Pittsburgh Healthcare System extended telehealth to provide antineoplastic therapies to rural patients by developing a clinical video telehealth clinic of the Virtual Cancer Care Network.
33% of the 9.2 million veterans enrolled in the VHA system lived in rural areas. Also, veterans who live in rural areas tend to be older (56% are > 65 years old), sicker, and poorer (52% earn less than $35,000 a year) than their urban counterparts. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced oncologists across the VA system to adopt telehealth to offer continuity of healthcare.
The first CVT clinic for treatment was established in 2018, and since then, VCCN provides the infrastructure for a CVT oncology clinic and remote infusion center. The CVT clinic helped oncologists to continue caring remotely for their patients during treatment. This displayed that the VA telehealth system for cancer care can be adopted and integrated into other health systems by overcoming telehealth barriers and defining success metrics.