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.