OIG Report: Tablets Distributed to Veterinarians Are Underused

Veterans don’t use tablets distributed to them through the Veterans Health Administration’s Video Connect program, according to an Aug. audit Report of the Office of the Inspector General.

The report found that more than half (51%) of the 41,000 patients who received an Apple iPad in the first three quarters of fiscal 2021 did not use the tablet to connect to virtual appointments.

According to the Connected Care employee, these devices have an annual unlimited cellular data plan that costs $257.50 per device per year.

The review team calculated that the nearly 8,300 devices cost VHA approximately $6.3 million and would incur approximately $78,000 in mobile data charges during the review period.

“With stricter oversight and control responsibilities to ensure that medical facility staff monitor VVC [VA Video Connect] appointments and equipment usage, as well as finding ways to retrieve, where needed, VHA can better secure approximately $6.3 million in loanable devices to other patients and more than 78,000 dollar data plan costs,” the report said.

While the review team noted that the program was successful in delivering the device to patients, several gaps in oversight and guidance were preventing the program from fully meeting its intended purpose. it is for the patient to get virtual care via (VVC.

According to the report, an estimated 10,700 patients had never booked an appointment with VVC, as there was no booking request and neither patient nor staff initiated booking with VVC.

The lack of clear supervisory roles and responsibilities for the Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) and facility staff has contributed to low utilization rates and errors. in device release and management.

The report adds: “Inventory improvements and controls have also resulted in a backlog of more than 14,800 devices awaiting refurbishment that cannot be returned to the warehouse for redistribution or review during the device purchase process. of the VHA”.

The report also made 10 recommendations to promote better patient use of devices and program management overall, with the OIG recommending that the VHA add procedures to prevent the release and retrieval of medical devices. Duplicate device.


In August 2020, VHA’s Office of Connected Care noticed a growing need for patients to access video-based virtual care, and many patients lacked video-enabled devices or internet connectivity. required to access this care.

According to a research published in the journal JAMA Network Open, providing video-assisted tablets to veterans living in rural areas has reduced emergency room visits and suicidal behavior.

Additionally, a VA-funded study was published in Neurology in April Find that a remote control program helped prevent unnecessary patient transfers.


“Because the VHA did not effectively track the release, use, or return of devices, many unused devices were not retrieved and made available to other patients,” the report concluded. “Failure to track these items from delivery through trace will limit VHA’s ability to determine how many devices are available to patients.”

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