The Department of Veterans Affairs will continue using telehealth to give veterans more efficient health care, VA Secretary Denis McDonough told the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday. The care option became more prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s going to continue to need to be things that are done in person, but I think as a system we recognize the huge efficiency gains and huge satisfaction gains which come from vets spending less time traveling to our facilities while still getting good care,” he said, according to Military Times.

More than 2 million veterans have now used telehealth at least once, McDonough said.

“Ten years ago, if you told someone to interact with their clinician via iPhone, it would be an insult,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said. “Now, if you can’t do that, that’s an insult.”

Current demand for telehealth appointments is 18 times higher than it was in the spring of 2020, McDonough said.

Navy photo by Cmdr. Ryan Nations