Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Veterans Affairs launches iPad pilot program

The department is handing out 1,000 devices to veterans’ families to see how care coordination improves with mobile connectivity.


The Dept. of Veterans Affairs is launching an initiative aimed at studying the benefits of using mobile technology to coordinate care among physicians, veterans and their caregivers.

The VA is launching the “Clinic-in-Hand” pilot program as part of the mobile health initiative. One thousand family caregivers of veterans will be given Apple iPads loaded with apps to help them provide care and communicate with the veterans’ physicians. The caregivers will test the usability and utility of VA-developed mobile apps.

Josephine Schuda, spokeswoman for the VA, said the iPads and their loaded apps are “designed to increase the convenience of health care management and strengthen communication among veterans, family caregivers and clinicians.” The technology will include secure, two-way exchange of health data among all three parties as well as health care management tools to facilitate administrative needs and patient education.

Schuda said subsequent programs will pilot other devices and operating systems.

Apps developed as part of the pilot program, as well as additional apps that are not part of it, will be made available at the VA’s app store for download on any smartphone or tablet.

Apps also will be developed and launched during a phase of the program that will give physicians mobile access to some of the same functions available to them on the VA’s electronic health record system. Schuda said that although non-VA physicians will not be a part of the mobile health program, veterans can share their information with any physician from their mobile devices regardless of affiliation.

The VA awarded a 12-month, $350,000 contract to District Communications Group, a veterans-owned communications consulting firm based in Washington, to carry out the mobile health initiative.

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