2019 Government Innovation Awards
Rising Star: Dr. Leonie Heyworth
Director of Synchronous Telehealth, VHA Office of Connected Care/ Telehealth Services, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs is testing a cutting-edge initiative called Advancing Telehealth through Local Access Stations. ATLAS seeks to put pods inside places like Walmart stores or VFW posts in rural areas so that eligible veterans can consult via videoconference with VA team members who can assess their medical needs on the spot.
The person spearheading the initiative is Dr. Leonie Heyworth. Nearly 5.2 million veterans live in rural areas, and driving long distances to a VA facility represents a significant challenge for many. That’s why initiatives like ATLAS and the program to distribute electronic tablets to veterans for telehealth purposesare so important, she said.
“We are really on the cutting edge of being able to increasingly offer a wide variety of clinical services — not just those that don’t require a physical exam, but even those that do now from the home space,” she said.
Heyworth sees her mission in straightforward terms. “The main goal or main focus of anything I’ve ever done at the VA is to say: How can we make VA tech [and] health tech in general for veterans better? How can we make access to care better and [deliver] flexibility and convenience for the veteran?”
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