Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Home Tele-Mental Health
Some Veteran patients suffering from PTSD have difficulty receiving specialty treatment in VA clinics due to distance, personal situations, or the life effects of their condition. At the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center our PTSD team found a way to provide highly specialized care such as prolonged exposure therapy to these Veterans in their homes via secure V-TEL connections straight to the Veteran’s computer, I-Pad or mobile device. It started five years ago as a research project and in 2011 the VAMC incorporated Home Tele-Mental Health as part of its core treatment services for Veterans who are otherwise unable to receive this important PTSD treatment and care.
To date more than 200 Veterans have received Home Tele-Mental Health services. Dr. Ron Acierno, who leads the PTSD treatment team, says Home TMH is especially important for Veterans who have experienced Military Sexual Trauma. A recent survey found two-thirds of MST positive Veterans who refused in-person services reported they would be willing to receive services via Home TMH. Moreover, Veterans using Home TMH report equal levels of satisfaction with treatment and increased levels of satisfaction with ease of obtaining treatment.
Now Acierno’s team is comparing outcomes of prolonged exposure treatment delivered in person versus via Home TMH. He says preliminary results indicate both treatments are equally effective. He also notes Veterans receiving care through Home TMH continue to improve during follow-up which may be attributed to increased patient effort and responsibility that could increase the patient’s understanding of therapeutic strategies.
Home TMH has also reduced missed opportunities for care, improved patient access and convenience and reduced travel compensation costs.