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Milwaukee VA Medical Center


News from the Department of Veterans Affairs

Press Releases

Remarks of Acting Secretary Sloan D. Gibson During VFW Annual Convention (7/22/2014)

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson today spoke during the Veterans of Foreign Wars' 115th National Convention.

VA Continues to Accelerate Access to Veterans Health Care (7/17/2014)

Under the direction of Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Sloan D. Gibson, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken significant steps to improve Veterans' access to quality health care. In keeping with the commitment to improve transparency in the department's processes, VA today released the latest update of facility-level patient access data.

Acting Secretary Gibson Outlines Problems, Actions Taken, and Budget Resources Needed to Ensure Access to Care (7/16/2014)

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson outlined serious problems regarding access to healthcare and key actions the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken to get Veterans off wait lists and into clinics.

VAntage Point

Improving patient-provider communication and disease management

Posted: Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:18:20 +0000

NHS Delegation 6-2014

VA and NHS England representatives meet to discuss piloting a new mobile messaging system for Veterans in the U.S., during a UK delegation visit, June 23-25.

More and more Americans – including Veterans – have turned to their mobile devices to assist with their health care. Apps that help track fitness and provide tools for disease management are coming to the market in droves. Using technology to enhance health and quality of life is something both patients and providers can support. In fact, in the past year, more than a third of U.S. physicians recommended that patients use health apps.

Enter Annie, a mobile messaging system that VA is developing in partnership with the National Health Service (NHS) England. With this technology, VA patients can choose to receive personalized and targeted text messages from VA, including general health tips, appointment reminders and prompts to help them track their own health data or care plan

Annie, named after Lt. Annie G. Fox, the first woman to receive the Purple Heart for combat, was inspired by the award-winning technology developed by NHS –Florence (Flo), named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. In England, mobile messaging through Florence has proven highly effective in helping patients who suffer from chronic diseases to self-manage their care, which increases patient engagement and motivation for change.

Beginning this fall, testing of VA’s Annie will begin. The Annie system can be customized to help patients with any health condition. But, initially, pilot testing will focus on text messaging interchanges designed to help Veterans who are dealing with congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and weight loss concerns. Appointment reminders will also be part of the initial deployment of Annie. Following the pilot evaluations, use of the system will be expanded to address other areas of care.

It’s been an exciting partnership to work alongside our colleagues from NHS England to develop this system. We will soon have Annie and they will have a better Florence. Our health care systems have much in common. Furthermore, we both see the value in using eHealth technologies to transform care delivery and to engage our respective patients. As such, VA and NHS England are in the midst of a three-year exchange program and collaboration focused on eHealth, launched in early 2013. It’s been fruitful! I hope you get to meet Annie -or Florence – soon.

neilevansbwfrDr. Neil C. Evans is co-director, Connected Health, Office of Information and Analytics (OIA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Associate Chief of Staff for Informatics, Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center