VA apps move to testing phase, full deployment looms

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs currently is testing two mobile apps aimed at helping patients gain deeper healthcare data insight through integration with the agency's VistA electronic health record system, and is prepping a third for testing that promises to drive greater efficiency for providers and health staff, according to a report from FCW.

Last year, the VA deployed its Summary of Care and Blue Button apps; the former offers information such as lab results, consults, medications and patient vitals data, while the latter provides access to EHRs. Both would create a PDF file to share data with non-VA providers. The two apps, which previously had only been available as desktop applications through the agency's My HealtheVet portal, received the highest grades from users during beta testing of eight mobile applications.

Now, both apps are in field testing, and the VA will soon begin testing on the third app, dubbed Patient Viewer, according to FCW.

The VA hopes the Summary of Care and Blue Button apps will be able to provide access to all patients by late summer or early fall.

"Mobility is a new journey for many organizations--the VA included," Neil Evans, co-director of the VA's connected health program, told FCW. "So part of this is building, beyond just the application itself, the infrastructure to support a robust mobile program."

The goal of the Patient Viewer app is to save time, about five minutes per patient, on the administrative side of treatment, according to Kathleen Frisbee, who also serves as co-director of the connected health program. That means more time would be available to see more patients. Full release of Patient Viewer for VA patients is scheduled for mid to late fall.

The three apps are among a slew of mHealth efforts aimed at helping the military veteran patient population. In April, the Syracuse VA Medical Center announced it was launching a study to investigate if a mobile application can help veterans better self-manage post-traumatic stress disorder. And last October, a VA hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, debuted a new remote healthcare program featuring two-way audiovisual and computer connectivity in its intensive care unit to let specialists at other medical locations to participate in ICU patient care.

For more information:
- read the FCW report