IT Supporting Telehealth Nurse Practitioners in the Field
Nurse Practitioner Ellen Rosser has an important role: she provides primary care telehealth services to Veterans in rural and underserved areas of the country. As a teleworker, she is 100 percent reliant on IT tools and access to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) network and applications. Technology is critical for Ellen’s day-to-day work. Operating as part of an Office of Rural Health-funded telehealth hub, she and her fellow practitioners rely on technology to care for their patients. Each day, Ellen and her colleagues use smart phones with integrated hotspots, computers configured for VA network access, and remote video units to provide care to their patients.
Video capabilities are crucial in this line of work—Ellen and her telehealth colleagues use Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) to connect to clinics when they need to see patients there. Ellen works closely with on-site telepresenters who assist with hands-on exams, listening to heart and lung sounds, and providing high-definition camera views of areas of concern. When patients are in their homes and properly equipped with a smart phone, computer, or, in some cases, a VA-provided iPad, Ellen uses VA Video Connect or Video on Demand to provide care.
“We literally could not do our jobs without these tools,” Ellen says. “It’s so important to be able to see an area of concern and see a Veteran’s face during the interaction, especially when frequent mental health support or clinical pharmacy visits are needed.”
When she lost connectivity due to a password lockout issue with a new iPad, Ellen called on VA’s Office of Information and Technology’s (OIT) Enterprise Service Desk (ESD) so she could get back to her job as her patients’ lifeline to VA care.
“On the day I called the ESD, I was having extraordinary difficulty beyond my technical ability to explain,” she continued. “I needed a password reset, but there were also some background issues I didn’t know about at the time. It was a tough day for me. I couldn’t get into my system to see Veterans or process important medical-related tasks.”
When Ellen called OIT, she connected with agent Sarah Caldwell, who listened carefully, assessed the problems, and walked her through the steps needed to fix them.
“Through it all, Sarah was cool, calm, professional, and competent. She empathized but kept encouraging me to do the fixes she knew would work,” said Ellen.
Sarah not only figured out and solved the problems but proactively advised Ellen on how to avoid similar problems in the future, encouraging her to set calendar reminders to reset her password every 60 days.
As a VA employee since 2008, Ellen notices the improvements OIT has made to service telehealth workers who depend on IT tools to meet patient needs. Smart problem-solvers like Sarah play an important role, but many others in OIT are contributing as well, working behind the scenes every day to support VA business requirements.
Through it all, ESD is there, always ready to patiently troubleshoot and provide IT solutions to ensure VA staff like Ellen have the IT tools they need to do their jobs providing care and services to the nation’s Veterans.