Mobile Health: Expanding Care for Veterans Beyond the Medical Center



Health care in the 21st century. What does this mean to you? When you think of your health care now, do you often feel rushed through visits with your primary care provider? Do you have to plan ahead to travel to the medical center for your appointments? Are you struggling to keep track of all of your medications?  These are common concerns I often hear from my patients.

As a physician at the Washington D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center, I am excited to be a part of VA’s Mobile Health project, which is changing the way we provide care to our Veterans.

I see Veterans almost every day who seek to improve their care through greater participation and access to what they need – access to me, access to their electronic medical records, access to more information about how to stay healthy.  A recent study found that the more access Veterans have to their health records, the more in control they feel when it comes to their health. Access to more information gives Veterans a better understanding of their own individual health needs, a closer connection to their VA care teams and assistance for self-care.

This is what VA Mobile Health is all about – providing Veterans and their Caregivers with the tools they need to live healthier lives. VA Mobile Health is helping transform care for our Veterans, expanding it beyond the office visit. We are working to provide Veterans with easy access to their health information and their VA care teams through a series of secure mobile applications (Apps).  Veterans can use these tools to stay organized with their appointments, medications and reminders; and to empower them – and those around them – to take a more active part in the process.

Washington, D.C. area family caregivers met with Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel and other VHA leaders for the ceremonial launch of the VA Mobile Health Family Caregiver Pilot.

To ensure that the Apps help Veterans, Caregivers, clinicians and others do the things they need to do to keep Veterans healthy, we are piloting VA Mobile Apps to various stakeholders.

Last week, VA hosted Dellareece Bostick and Marcella Stretch – two Caregivers of seriously injured post 9/11 Veterans – here in Washington D.C. The Caregivers are part of a VA Mobile Health pilot in which we have loaned iPads to more than 1,000 Caregivers around the country. The iPads are loaded with Apps designed to help provide Caregivers with tools to help them stay organized, save time and manage stress. These tools will help them do what is most important to them – care for the Veterans they love.

Throughout the next year, VA will launch a variety of mobile Apps and mobile-optimized Web sites to assist Veterans, Caregivers and VA care teams. We are developing technologies that give our patients more access to their personal health information while on the go, tools to help them manage their care, and greater two-way communication with their VA health care teams. These tools will allow Veterans and Caregivers to refill prescriptions, securely message with care teams, request appointments, review lab results and vitals, and self-enter information on media conditions such as blood pressure, weight loss, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and pain management.

Your care does not end when your appointment is over.  To manage your health, you need tools that work on your schedule and with your busy life.  VA Mobile Health is here to help ensure you have the support from VA that you need, whenever and wherever you need it.

Visit VA’s Mobile Health Web site for the latest on how new mobile technologies are improving care for Veterans and their Caregivers.Neil C. Evans, MD is a board-certified, practicing primary care internist at the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center and the Co-Director of Connected Health at the Veterans Health Administration VA. Dr. Evans is the national Clinical Director for VA’s mobile health technologies and innovation program.

Author

Neil Evans

Comments

  1. Billie F Weaver    

    The ability to have prescriptions renewed would greatly help those of us who deal with the VA pharmacy.
    I recently (27 July) called the local VA Clinic and left a message for a renewal on a controlled substance, waited one week, called back and was told that a new PA had been assigned and that there was no record at the VA for my subscription I(this afterrt years of prescribing the same medication) and to call my civilian MD for chart notes, etc. I did this on 5 August and was notified by the VA that they had received the required paperwork and I assumed that the prescription would be renewed. I received a call from the VA on 6 August stating that I would get a substitute prescription instead of the regular one. I told them I did not want the substitute and that Doctors including the VA Doctors had coordinated my medicines to the point where compatibility was reached and I did not want to disrupt that. To date (8August), I have talked to A Nurse numerous times, finally getting the new PA to return my call and after some discussion, agreed to renew the original prescription,
    Time will tell if this is done or not.

  2. David Aylward    

    Hi, Neil. I really admire the leadership VA is providing in mHealth. I was the first Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance at the UN Foundation (focused on using mHealth in developing countries). I’m now doing that at Ashoka, with primary interest in Africa and India. But I am also spending some time working on mHealth and mental health in the US, where I believe VA has spent some energy. On both counts I would value comparing notes with you. Can you drop me a line at daylward@ashoka.org?

  3. Cynthia Marie Pratt    

    Having access without going 239 miles each way for appointments would help a great deal. I have to pay at least $125 for train ticket each way, pay for hotel if stay an extra night for next day appointment and then get on train for 4 hours home another @125 dollars and I receive less than 800 a month from SS retirement and SSI and VA compensation ($129). Paying for the travel takes away from other bills and makes it difficult to live on nothing the rest of the month. Sometime I get the money for travel sometimes not. I end up staying awake the entire 24+ hours of the trip because the train is usually 2 to 4 hours late each direction.
    My doctor is finally a good one (fought over a year about getting a new doctor) and I do not want to change doctor or go to another hospital. The hospital here in Arizona is almost the same distance and I would have to drive it. I have an ankle injury which makes it difficult to drive and have no other family to do it. Friends are in California, so they help as they can with transportation from hospital to train station. By taxi it is $23 dollars+ each way.
    SUGGESTION: There needs to a place that MRI’s and Xrays and such can be done without traveling there (LLVA) for an hour and then sit around rest of trip to return home which takes one day and half to get back here in Arizona. Same with physical therapy, I can not afford trip two times a week for therapy to LLVA and come home.
    When I have told Doctors this they say we can’t help that. So I go without the therapy which is an SERVICE CONNECTED INJURY FROM 1977 never healed correctly.
    Thank you for your attention to it problem.
    Cynthia 6321

    1. Barbara Allison-Standefer    

      Hi Cynthia,
      I do not know your age, but yours is a common problem with veterans needing healthcare services. While I see great things coming from these new apps especially with older veterans who have Medicare and VA Benefits, I don’t know how the new ACA law will approach help for younger veterans like you.
      I am a Certified Senior Advisor and Medicare Benefits Specialists and I try
      to talk to older veterans about how the new Medicare Advantage plans work with veterans so that they can access care from neighborhood physicians, as well as
      VA doctors. Humana has a great plan for Veterans as well as some of the others to allow them to have access to care in their own communities. Transportation to healthcare at a VA clinic is a great concern and problem.
      I hope that there is something being done so that all veterans can have access to the most convenient care, then this new mobile system would come into play to get records immediately to any healthcare provider the veteran needs or has access to, and not just VA Clinic and doctors. The costs of rolling out this program would then be more justified.

  4. David La Rochelle MD    

    As a retired surgeon, Army veteran, and VA Health patient, I use the secure messaging and prescription refill often. Keeping records of lab reports and copying some of the medical records as well as dental records is a benefit for non VA physicians that I am seeing.
    My concerns involve the security of the data. Electronic Medical Records are being demanded by HHS in order to assist in reimbursement for Medicare patients. When Obama Care starts up this January 2014, will the VA health records be subjected to the IRS activity surveillance?

  5. jeremy lickver USMC    

    So now the VA is waisting cash for over 1000 I-pads “loaded with apps” lets say $399 each at least nowing how the government spends money. that’s $400,000 for the pads plus the training costs, support and employee salaries, easy several million monthly? Do you think the funds could be better spent on more employees in the local community based clinics. Everyone has a laptop use that. a iPad does make sick or injured people better, more health care personal does.

Comments are closed.