VA to launch several health apps after year-long pilot program

By Aditi Pai
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Launch PadThe Department of Veterans Affairs plans to launch several new mobile apps this fall, according to a report from Federal News Radio.

Many apps that the VA plan to launch were part of the organization's Family Caregiver Pilot, which began in June 2013 and lasted a year. In addition to those apps, the VA has also converted desktop applications from its health portal into mobile apps.

As part of the year-long pilot, VA recruited 1,000 seriously injured post-9/11 Veterans and their caregivers to participate in the pilot. Each caregiver was given an iPad for the length of the pilot.

The apps in the pilot included HealthAdvocate, which allows a veteran to give a caregiver access to all of their personal health information; SummaryOfCare, an app that allows users to view their VA medical information like lab results, medications, and allergies; HealthAssessment, which lets veterans complete some self-assessments and make the results available to their caregiver; and Rx Refill, which helps veterans fill prescriptions. Two other apps in the pilot helped veterans coping with particular conditions: PainCoach and PTSD. PTSD is a modified version of the PTSDCoach app the VA released in 2011.

The VA also plans to convert a desktop applications available through a VA health portal, called MyHealtheVet, into mobile apps. In an interview with Federal News Radio, Veterans Health Affairs Connected Health co-director Neil Evans said the two apps they are converting from MyHealtheVet are SummaryOfCare, which was also one of the apps in the pilot, and Mobile Blue Button. (Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the Blue Button app was Humetrix's iBlueButton, while Mobile Blue Button is actually an app developed in-house by the VA.)

All the new apps will be available in an app store that the VA plans to launch this fall. The VA inked a $9.3 million contract in 2012 with Longview International Technology Solutions to develop the app store and build a mobile device management system.

A few weeks ago, the VA made another announcement in the digital health space. The department said that they would soon begin reimbursing its doctors for activity trackers used for rehabilitating veterans with prosthetic limbs. The change the VA made is to introduce a new mandatory template for providers to use when negotiating contracts with the vendors that sell prosthetic limbs and custom orthotics for injured veterans.