Report: Apple Is Working With VA to Help Vets Download Health Records

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Vets would be able to have their health records on their iPhones.

Veterans Affairs Department officials are working with Apple to build software that gives vets easier access to their electronic health records, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Under the program, the tech giant would create a tool that allows vets to download health records directly to their iPhones, according to a report published Tuesday. Ultimately, vets would link those records to other apps that track prescriptions and provide different health-related services, agency officials told the Journal.

Apple and Veterans Affairs reportedly began discussing the project in early 2017, and they’ve continued to develop the software through the present day, the officials said. Still, it remains unclear how far the project has progressed.

“[Veterans Affairs] is in frequent contact with the private sector on how companies can work together on improving services to our nation’s veterans, but we have no announcements at this time with respect to any particular company or group of companies,” Deputy Press Secretary Jordan Eason told Nextgov.

Veterans Affairs kept the project largely under wraps, but the Journal found Dr. Bruce Moskowitz was one of the partnership’s early proponents. Moskowitz, who holds no official government role, is one of a trio of informal Trump associates who are reported to influence personnel and procurement decisions within the department.

“I think the number one priority with Apple will be to have what they are already working on, portable health records available to veterans,” Moskowitz told agency leaders last year in an email obtained by the Journal.

Prior investigations have found Moskowitz and other members of the so-called “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” worked to derail the agency’s multibillion-dollar health record modernization effort and pushed for the firing of former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

Once the project is completed, Apple would gain access to medical data on some 9 million veterans, which could prove to be an enormous asset as the company looks to enter the lucrative health IT market. According to the report, the agency saw the tech’s potential to increase health data interoperability, which is a goal officials have long sought to achieve.

The agency is also pursuing a 10-year, $10 billion IT overhaul to get on the same health record platform as the Pentagon, but management drama and cost overruns have plagued the effort thus far.

Editor's note: This article was updated with a statement from the Veterans Affairs Department.