6 ways to take charge of your healthcare

Jonathan Kaupanger
May 03, 2018 - 12:59 pm

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It’s not really new. It’s been a slow build at VA over the past five years. Instead of concentrating on the disease and how to treat it, the focus now is the whole veteran, from the physical, emotional and even social well-being. It’s the Whole Health approach.

“VA offers a comprehensive network of support for all our nation’s veterans and their families,” said Dr. Teresa D. Boyd, acting assistant deputy undersecretary for health for clinical operations in a recent Vantage Point article. “No matter what a veteran is dealing with, there are resources to help, including the Veterans Crisis Line, same day access to mental health providers and Vet Centers.”

Adding Whole Health into the mix of resources gives veterans new ways to take charge of their healthcare. Here are a few of VA’s programs that will help connect veterans to their health care teams.

Whole Health for Life website

What matters to you most? That’s how this VA webpage starts.  Here you’ll find resources and programs and where you will start picking up tools to change how you look at your healthcare. Instead of focusing on the problems you’re dealing with, you’ll learn about what encourages you to work through these issues. It’s not about what’s the matter with you as it is what matters to you. Once you figure this out your health care team can personalize your treatments based on your values, needs and goals.

Whole Health system video series

You’ll find videos and podcasts from other veterans and VA clinicians that can explain this approach to managing your health. 

Personal health inventory

What matters to you most is an important place to start, but to truly get healthy you need to ask yourself a few more questions. Are you getting enough sleep at night to feel refreshed in the morning? Are you eating foods that nourish you? Do you surround yourself with people you love and care about? These are all important parts of our Personal Health Inventory (PHI). You’ll learn how to access the eight components of self-care.  This will help you pinpoint exactly what areas you need to improve.

Download this PHI and bring it with you to your next VA appointment. There’s a shorter version for those of you with less free time on your hands and even a Spanish version too.

Home-based primary care

This is exactly what it sounds like – health care services that are provided in your home. It’s for veterans with very complex health needs and for those where routine clinic-based care isn’t that effective. There are even tools to help you decide what long term services or even the setting is best for you. There’s a section for caregivers to help figure out their own needs and exactly how much support they can offer to you.

Telehealth and Telemental services

The only difference between VA’s Telehealth and going into a VA facility for an appointment is simply location, location, location. You can see the list of different services provided here.  VA is recognized as a world leader in telehealth and makes diagnoses, manages care and preforms check-ups all in the comfort of wherever you feel is best for you.  They’ve had a recent expansion of the program so rural veterans can access the programs too. 

Home-based mental health evaluation (HOME) program

This is specifically to help veterans transition from inpatient psychiatric care to going home. With this program you have the option of in-clinic, in-home or even telephone visits after discharge from the hospital.