Tricare, VA tout telehealth apps

By Tom Sullivan
09:02 AM

Tricare and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) each detailed a new mobile health offering this week.

The telehealth and smartphone products join a growing collection of mobile health applications, some of which are provided by government health agencies – the VA and DoD included – or funded by federal government departments, such as HHS and ONC.

And they fit into the VA’s increasingly wireless strategy that includes a mobile PHR announced late last month and the declaration that, come October 1, 2011, the VA will allow clinicians and other employees to use mobile devices inside its walls.

On Thursday, Tricare aligned with Express Scripts to deliver the free Tricare Express Rx application and accompanying mobile-optimized website, which the organizations claim will enable beneficiaries using GPS smartphones to manage prescriptions, access health information, locate the nearest pharmacy in their network, or order home delivery and check status.

[MobileHealthWatch Senior Editor Eric Wicklund asks: mHealth or telehealth – should there be a distinction?]

The VA on Thursday, for its part, gave an Innovation Initiative (VAi2) award to American Telecare (ATI) for its telehealth product for VA patients at risk for end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). The VA said in a statement that it provides kidney dialysis for more than 10,000 veterans a year and every year 3,000 reach ESKD. ATI’s program will begin in the VA Midwest Health Care Network in Minneapolis, Minn.

This spring, the DoD and VA teamed up to deliver PTSD Coach, a smartphone app to help veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Then late last month two notable smartphone health application advances happened: Polyglot’s Meducation app won ONC’s SMART Platform Apps Challenge and the FDA approved a blood pressure cuff and app for the iPhone.