VA challenges mobile device, app developers to improve care

The Veterans Affairs Department, with the help of the West Wireless Health Institute, are asking developers to create an original wireless sensor or application that connects patients with their Veterans Health Care provider. The device should target one or more identified health conditions affecting veterans, such as polytrauma, said WWHI.

"Nearly every segment of the Veteran community can benefit from the integration of wireless technology with health care," Scott Gould, deputy secretary at the VA, said while speaking Oct. 12 at HCI-DC in Washington, D.C.

The competition is part of a program called the Veteran's Affairs Innovation Initiative, or VAi2, which aims to foster innovation within the VA. The winner of the challenge will be awarded $10,000 and the contest will run from Nov. 1 through Jan. 15, 2011. Don Casey, chief executive officer of WWHI, said a winner will be announced by Feb. 1, 2011.

The adoption of mobile apps and wireless technology, through a challenge acquisition model, has been a hot topic within government. In this case, the VA will benefit from a public-private partnership in that the $10,000 contract award won't be coming from the department's budget.

"Sometimes you have ideas, but you don't have resources. We're not talking gillions of dollars of resources," Aneesh Chopra, federal chief technology officer, said.

Chopra also spoke to the importance of furthering spectrum initiatives that ensure the mobile infrastructure on which health innovation depends. He hinted at a soon-to-be released strategy paper that will help the United States double its broadband capabilities within 10 years, as well as outline a "fast track" deliverable, so that spectrum improvements can be seen in the shorter term.

"We like to think the ubiquitous nature of the telecommunication network is going to change the dynamics," Casey said. "Policymakers are beginning to create an ecosystem that will allow for a change in the healthcare delivery system."

For more:
- see more on the VA/West Wireless challenge here (.pdf)