VA looking to technology to reduce suicide risks

AP News
Posted: Jun 20, 2012 6:37 PM
VA looking to technology to reduce suicide risks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (shin-SEHK'-ee) says his department hopes to reduce suicide rates by treating more patients through video conferences and by gradually integrating its electronic health records with those maintained by the Defense Department.

Among active-duty troops, there has been an uptick in suicides this year — about one per day compared with one every 36 hours in previous years. Among veterans from all of the nation's wars, about 18 commit suicide each day.

Shinseki says video conferences would reduce the distance some patients travel and make it easier to fit appointments within a busy schedule. The department has eliminated co-payments for patients treated through video conferences.

Shinseki says that integrating the departments' health records would help doctors identify more veterans who need treatment following their service.