Veterans Administration (VA) and Apple Telehealth Initiative
VA improves telehealth patient care for vets, Apple expands its healthcare business
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) are partnering to provide better healthcare for veterans nationwide. The two organizations have launched a telehealth program centered on the distribution and use of iPads. Qualifying veterans will be issued cellular-enabled iPads so they can access medical programs and services offered by the VA including telehealth.
Veterans Administration is a leader in telehealth program development and execution
Presently the program involves over 50,000 veterans. It builds on other remote care access technology initiatives the VA has established in the past including the Connected Tablet program launched in 2016. The VA is a pioneer in developing and deploying remote care programs administered through technology. Early in 2020, the VA earned the Telemedicine Champion Award from the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) based on their ability to provide quality care by utilizing telehealth patient and clinician appointments.
Access to quality care is a concern for many veterans
Roughly a quarter of U.S. veterans live in rural areas. These locations typically have less access to care and many rural hospitals and primary care providers have reduced or shut down their services permanently due to economic issues. Adding to this challenge is some veterans have limited means of transportation and financial resources which makes accessing care from the VA difficult. COVID-19 has further exacerbated these issues.
The VA and Apple will be able to establish a core telehealth technology platform
By distributing iPads to qualified veterans, the VA and Apple can develop a more standardized user experience and IT base upon which to operate it. iPads have many attributes that contribute to a positive user experience supported with privacy and security features delivered by a convenient to use, portable device that exchanges content and data via cellular technology. Despite being decades into the digital age, many rural areas lack adequate broadband coverage and Washington is taking significant action to rectify this issue.
Apple continues to expand its presence in the healthcare sector. Just recently it launched its Fitness+ virtual exercise and training subscription program and its blood oxygen reading and body fat calculating Series 6 Apple Watch. The VA is the largest health system in the United States and the deployment of the iPad and its supporting technology into its care delivery services opens up numerous healthcare innovation and revenue streams for Apple in the future.
The VA and Washington are taking assertive action to improve care for veterans and rural communities
The VA and Apple telehealth initiative is managed by the VA Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships and aligns with its Office of Connected Care. Care for veterans is further supported by the VA Office of Rural Health (ORH).
The White House, Congress and other policymakers in Washington have taken assertive action to resolve rural healthcare issues. These challenges impact veterans, farmers and others living in rural communities and contribute to the erosion of education, economic, technical and medical resources in these areas. The recent development and launch of the Rural Action Plan that encompasses access to care, telehealth, medical professional staffing, financial and technology improvements has positive, far-reaching changes already underway.
Moving forward, veterans are now better able to receive care through virtual appointments and access other telehealth resources including access to their medical data through the Health Records application from Apple. Veterans that do not have a video-capable device or internet service (including those in non-rural, metropolitan and suburban locations) should contact the VA to learn more about their options and determine their eligibility for the new iPad program.
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