Serving Veterans with State-of-Art Technology to Provide Accessible Healthcare Services
The Veterans Affairs (VA) Virtual Medical Center (VMC) is a continuously available virtual environment accessible to Providers, Veteran Patients, and their family members. It provides Veteran Patient access to validated medical materials and resources, improving healthcare information by connecting healthcare professionals and patients in a truly collaborative environment. Additionally, it provides VA Providers access to specialized medical reference materials and offers them a venue to communicate and collaborate in effective new ways. The VA-VMC provides two-way, real-time communication and care through meetings, scheduled events, conferences, and Virtual Medical Assistants. Specialized clinics are available to focus on the health issues that are of special concern to veterans. There are also Cybraries, Education Centers, and kiosks for any user to easily access a huge library of VA services, education, training, research, and wellness information. This geo-typical medical center improves accessibility, offers convenience of care, and meets the growing demand for affordable health care services for U.S. Veterans who may be located anywhere throughout the world.
Key Features of the VA-VMC include:
- Range of Environments – Multitude of environments to reflect clinical and non-clinical settings
- Content Management System – Integrated content management system allows the VA to easily store, share and manage the VA curated and vetted content used in the virtual world
- Scheduled Meetings – Schedule public and private meetings that include presentations, screen sharing, and document sharing
- Massively Multiplayer – Existing capacity supporting up to 1,000 concurrent users, scalable to more with zone instancing and load balancing
- Conferences and Events – Schedule public or invitation-only conferences and events in conference rooms, auditoriums, or custom-designed facilities
- Customizable Avatars – Users can customize their 3D avatars to enhance their immersion and participation through a sense of self-expression
- Instructor Tools – Use tools like presentations, shared documents, screen sharing, surveys, and more to improve learner engagement
- Social Tools – Connect with other users through private and group text chat, buddy lists, Voice-Over-IP (VOIP), and avatar emote animations
- Browser-Based – Experience the 3D Virtual World from directly within your browser without the need for any plugin or installation (This feature will be available in 2021.)
The 24/7 availability of the VA-VMC enables Veterans to be able to connect when they otherwise might not be able. Many Veterans in rural areas live hours away from the nearest VA Medical Center or clinic. Most recently the VA-VMC has proved useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many Veterans were forced to stay at home. In addition, during this period, a Decision Support System (DSS) Identifier (or “stop code” for accounting) was added to allow VA healthcare practitioners to use this code when providing services via the VA-VMC.