A new study published in the November, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry found that veterans suffering PTSD received superior treatment via telemedicine in comparison to treatment provided by federally-operated veteran’s affairs hospitals.
Due to insufficient numbers of VA hospitals in the U.S., veterans often have to travel long distances to find a VA hospital to receive the treatment they need for physical or psychological issues. Because most of them have sustained serious injuries from combat, it is often difficult for them to travel lengthy distances, making the ability to receive consistent medical treatment nearly impossible.
An Effective and Necessary Substitute for Traditional VA Hospitals
Researchers conducting the study employed a randomized trial design to investigate the efficacy of evidence-based psychotherapy on veterans with PTSD. A group of 265 veterans living in rural areas were divided evenly to compare the effects of telemedicine-based treatment to “brick and mortar” hospital-based treatment.
One group of veterans had access to physicians via telemedicine. This system involved phone calls and video correspondence. According to study results, the group of veterans relying on telemedicine were eight times more likely than the non-telemedicine group (who had to commute to a VA hospital) to follow through with eight sessions of CPT (cognitive processing therapy).
As expected, the group using telemedicine experienced considerable improvement of their PTSD symptoms. This study has impressed the Veteran’s Administration so much that they are now considering the creation of an app to assist rural veterans who do not have access to a VA hospital.
Telemedicine Offers Additional Benefits to Veterans
Telemedicine may also be effective in reducing wait times for veterans, a serious problem brought to public awareness last summer when the VA scandals made headlines. In addition, telemedicine is capable of decreasing infrastructure costs so that more funds can be channeled towards treating veterans.
If the U.S. Veteran’s Administration and associated hospitals can provide veterans with the ability to use telemedicine PTSD, debilitating anxiety and other health problems that deprive our courageous veterans of enjoying a high quality of life can be treated more consistently, more quickly and, more importantly, successfully.