The VA Virtual Medical Center - Setting a Vision for a Virtual Healthcare Campus for Our Veterans

Manny Dominguez, PhD

VHA Employee Education System

PURPOSE:  The Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated health system in the world.  In order to enhance care delivery and education a VA Virtual Medical Center (VMC) is under development.  As a collaborative 21st century virtual hospital and learning environment, patients and staff have direct access to medical care and resources anytime and anywhere.

METHODS: The VMC integrates opportunities for medical consultation, expanded clinical care delivery, patient education and continuing education for staff.  The Virtual Medical Advisor will provide SME-validated medical information to common questions.  Virtual Clinics will include consultation with medical professionals, group and one-on-one appointments.  Patient lounges will connect patients with similar conditions and provide wellness tools, searchable medical content, and serious interactive games.  Both patients and staff will have access to a robust Cybrary with electronic resources, searchable medical content and thousands of media-rich resources. A conference center will have spaces equipped with solutions for meetings ill-served by VTC or websites.  Just-in-time self-directed education will be available to staff in addition to scheduled activities.

RESULTS: The first Clinics to open will be Palliative Care, Diabetes, Behavioral Health and Pain Management followed by Wounded Warrior.  Initial emphasis will be on staff education.   For example, in the Palliative Care Clinic clinicians and nurses will access training using novel virtual patient and standardized patient simulation-based strategies designed to improve meaningful goals of care discussions and palliative care planning with patients and families.  Interactive content can be provided in a variety of ways, allowing the learner to choose what works best for her.

CONCLUSIONS:  Our newest generation of veterans is very tech savvy and embraces virtual world technologies.  The VMC will allow geographically separated staff and patients to interact in-world in an appealing and familiar environment.  In-world opportunities can provide important care resources and rich educational experiences for all learners.