VA Health Care Where You Are

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VA Testing Mobile App

The key to the Department of Veterans Affairs new model of patient care fits in the palm of your hand.

For the past few months, the VA has been field testing several pilot programs designed to extend the reach of services to veterans. One program, the Family Caregiver Pilot, has provided Apple iPads to more than 1,000 recently wounded veterans and their caregivers so they can better monitor ongoing health concerns.

Assistant National Legislative Director Adrian Atizado had the opportunity to test the apps and learn about the pilot program at a VA demonstration given at DAV Washington Headquarters.

“This appears to be a very effective tool for both caregivers and veterans to keep track of important health data and to transmit that information directly to their health care team,” said Atizado. “It’s fantastic that the VA also includes elements specific to the caregiver, because we know how much their health can be affected during the recovery process as well.”

Marine Corps veteran Brian Olinger is currently testing the pilot system and said the apps give him greater control over his overall health care.

“It is really a snapshot of my entire VA record,” Olinger said. He was recently diagnosed with a torn ACL and opted to have a non-VA provider perform the surgery. “The VA Mobile App empowers me to provide my private specialist with information from VA, as well as information I can enter myself. Having the information from previous VA visits allows me to review my record to determine if what the doctors are saying is consistent with how I really feel.”

The wide variety of apps being fielded right now will be useful to the changing demographic of the veteran population, according to Neil Evans, a VA physician and co-director of Connected Health.

“We have a gaming application that allows veterans to compete against their military colleagues to see who can best improve their health,” said Evans. “We are also getting ready to release several applications specific to women’s health.”

So far, the feedback is largely positive. The 41-year-old Olinger believes that younger veterans will fully expect mobile apps to become a basic part of

their health care experience, and he believes older veterans will appreciate the ease of access the apps will provide.

“I recommend VA Mobile Health Apps to any veteran who wants to access information easily, refill prescriptions, track their personal health or just have a tool to help them get through a tough day,” said Olinger. “Using the apps makes my life easier, and I believe that other veterans have an interest in them, too. They provide the type of information veterans want, when they want it.”

Evans added that the VA plans to collect feedback in early 2014 and release specific apps in May or June.