VA to test self-care text messaging app


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to field test an automated text-messaging app geared toward improving self-care of veterans. The application, named “Annie” after Annie G. Fox — who served as chief nurse in the Army Nurse Corps during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1944 — will be tested at four VA sites, including Washington, D.C.; Portland, Maine; Cleveland; and Minneapolis. These tests will last 60 days, and then another 30 days will be spent fixing problems that may arise before broad rollout is considered.

According to Neil Evans, co-director of connected health at the Veterans Health Administration, the app was inspired by a similar tool developed by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service called “Flo.” Once its ready for prime time, the app will serve as an extension of the providers who are prescribing it.

Evans also noted that the idea behind these apps is that patients actually use them. “It’s not about the dollars and cents, it’s about the cost of my time, effort and involvement, ” he said to FierceMobileHealthcare. “We all know that mobile applications often get used a few times, and then are abandoned. Mostly, I think that’s because we make it too hard to use, that the cost of my time is too high for me, or the quality is not good.”