VA Telehealth improves access to nutrition services

Nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition and Food Services programs offered by VA can help with weight management and focus on health conditions related to nutrition, such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and renal disease.

Accessing those programs is easier than ever due to telehealth technology, such as VA Video Connect, VA’s secure videoconferencing app.

Kari Mularcik, chief of Nutrition Services at Central Ohio VA, has seen the positive impact of virtual nutrition care. Many Veterans have joined these specialized nutrition programs because they’re convenient. They may not have joined if they had to visit a VA facility, but the virtual aspect makes them accessible.

Only 10% of appointments are in person

Today, every VA facility offers virtual appointments. At Central Ohio VA, only 10% of nutrition appointments are in person. This has opened the door to Veterans who value the accessibility and convenience of a video appointment.

“Instead of taking three or four hours off work to come and see us, they can take a break at work and use 30 minutes for a virtual appointment,” said Mularcik.

It’s also a benefit for many facilities that might not have the physical space for so many in-person appointments during the day.

Central Ohio VA in Columbus offered VA Video Connect visits before the COVID-19 pandemic. It is especially helpful to Veterans who live in rural areas far from the VA facility. But Mularcik said the number of Veterans who use VA telehealth has increased greatly since 2020.

Telehealth programs for nutrition care

Aside from video visits, VA offers telehealth programs to help Veterans with nutrition care:

  • MOVE! is a national weight management program that helps Veterans set weight loss, gain or maintenance goals. Veterans can meet virtually in a group setting with VA providers.
  • The Home Telehealth program monitors Veterans’ health data remotely through connected devices. These devices include activity trackers, blood pressure and glucose monitors, smartwatches and more.
  • Healthy Teaching Kitchen is a virtual cooking class that shows Veterans basic skills to help them maintain a healthy diet. These classes also help Veterans with specific nutrition needs, including those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

Learn more about virtual care options for Veterans.

VA Telehealth improves access to nutrition services