VA to provide 1,000 iPads to family caregivers

Ted S. Warren/AP

Applications developed for the project will be available in a VA app store in early 2013.

The Veterans Affairs Department plans to provide 1,000 family caregivers with Apple iPad tablets equipped with health care applications and tools to help them care for veterans at home as part of a pilot project to field mobile applications to all veterans through a VA app store that will open in early 2013.

Spokeswoman Jo Schuda said the pilot Clinic-in-Hand project for family caregivers will host apps integrated with VA data systems that will allow the exchange of health-related data between the department, veterans and caregivers.

District Communications Group LLC, a Washington-based disabled-veteran-owned small business, won a sole-source contract for the mobile health pilot project on April 13 to develop Clinic-in-Hand.

Schuda said primary caregivers enrolled in VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program will be invited to participate in the Clinic-in-Hand project. Eligible participants then will be randomly selected in the summer of 2012, she said.

To participate, caregivers must be designated as “primary providers of personal care services” for eligible veterans who have been approved for the Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program covered by the 2010 Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act.

The justification and approval notice for the District Communications contract said apps developed under the Clinic-in-Hand pilot will be available to all veterans in the VA apps store when it launches in 2013.

Schuda said the contract with contract with District Communications also covers work on the development of an electronic health record system application called VAi2-iHealth Mobile. The department has started to test the application at its Washington medical center. VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker told reporters last week that the EHR app is a “significant time-saver” because it brings together on a single portable device all the information health care providers need to care for patients.