This TIIAP funded project will use an existing telemedicine network, the Dakota Telemedicine System (DTS), to provide new and expanded health care services to veterans and Native American veterans living in North Dakota. Veterans in rural communities travel hundreds of miles to obtain primary and specialty health care services at area Veterans Administration (VA) health centers. For example, according to the GAO, the use of VA facilities, in terms of likelihood of use and frequency of use, declines significantly among veterans living more than five miles from a VA facility. North Dakota is one of the most rural states in the U.S. and veterans living there are greatly affected by the distances between VA facilities.
This project will demonstrate an innovative way to improve veterans' access to health care by using an effective and cost efficient health care system that combines 45 primary care clinics and facilities in local communities across the state with eleven telemedicine sites around the state. There are three hub sites on the DTS network¨hospitals in Minot and Bismarck and the VA Medical Center in Fargo¨where teleconsultations can occur between the specialists at the hubs and patients or doctors at the eleven telemedicine facilities. By using video teleconferencing technology, patients can receive emergency care, health education, and consult with health care providers concerning wellness and mental health programs¨without having to travel hundreds of miles to major health care facilities. The proposed system will give veterans and other North Dakota residents greater access to medical care by using the DTS state-wide telemedicine network. Also benefitting from the project will be two Indian Health Services Units located at Turtle Mountain and Standing Rock.
Partners include two non-profit hospitals in Bismarck and Minot, eight non-profit rural hospitals, and the VA Medical Center.