Tele-dentistry in the spotlight as Central Texas veterans healthcare worker pitches innovation summit

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Veterans Affairs health workers are in our nation’s capital this week for the Veterans Health Administration’s Innovation Experience. One employee from the Central Texas VA System attended with the goal of helping veterans in remote areas.

The VHA Innovation Experience brings healthcare workers together from around the country to pitch their innovative ideas on how to improve care for veterans. (Source: Gray DC)

Lisa Heck has her eyes set on veterans who cannot simply hop in a car to get help.

“For some of our veterans it’s hard to get transportation to and from any of the VA medical centers,” said Heck.

She says a large portion of veterans live in rural and remote areas in our country, especially in big states like Texas.

“We have to think outside the box of how we’re providing the care to these veterans,” said Heck.

She is highlighting the importance of tele-dentistry. The idea centers around taking dental pictures of patients that come to VA centers that might not have dentists readily available, upload those pictures to personal online records, and have dentists elsewhere evaluate and come up with treatment plans if necessary.

“We are providing that care that they need without having to move patients or providers to and from the dental clinics,” said Heck.

The Veterans Health Administration believes veterans need this kind of specific care for differing needs in different areas. Dr. Ryan Vega hopes these innovation summits can bring health care to new heights.

“They’re committed to this idea of mission driven innovation to change and save veteran lives,” said Vega.

He sees access as the great challenge for veterans when it comes to receiving adequate healthcare. He thinks a large portion of veterans prefer VA services, so innovators should focus on getting them services wherever they might be.

“It’s really important that the focus shift on making sure that we’re asking the right questions. We’re asking veterans ‘does this solution work for you?’” said Vega.

The innovation event lasted two days.

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