Mobile apps that give veterans more control over their health

To stay organized and responsible for his health, Army veteran Gabriel Villegas uses a third-party mobile app that has been tested and approved by the VA. These applications connect directly to the veteran’s VA.gov account and allow the user to access personal VA data, such as health or work records. They are called “third parties” because the VA does not create these services. And you are never required to use them.

Recently, Villegas took some time to share his experience using OneRecord, an app that allows users to build a consolidated medical record for their full health history, among other features.

This app is one of the many ways veterans can access their VA data plus health and service records. This is not the only option. Sharing this user history is provided as information to other veterans and does not constitute approval of the application by the VA.

When you think about the applications you usually use most often, what features or functions do you find most valuable? How does OneRecord compare?

In terms of expectations, everything in an application should be easy, and navigation should be intuitive and clear. More importantly, the app should help you get what you need to experience and bring you back to life. With OneRecord it is very convenient to use. You can use Face ID to log in and connect directly to VA. The dashboard is intuitive and allows you to easily find what you need, allowing you to break down to the record you need.

Is the application useful in everyday life? Are there any benefits in the real world?

What caught my attention about OneRecord is that it allows you to upload files and collect your records in one place. This brings back memories of being in the military when my wife and I moved seven times in seven years. With each movement, there is a process of going to the medical center or provider and receiving paper copies of medical records, placing them in my document box and moving them to the next duty station or city where I moved. Then you need to find a new doctor and deposit these documents with them. Sometimes they don’t want paper copies, and sometimes the previous provider doesn’t want to spend hours faxing more than 400 sheets of records. It can just become a nightmare.

The application allows me to upload my own files and serves as an electronic document cabinet. I can use it to connect to my health records, I can include health insurance, manage claims and manage insurance records. It’s like one-stop-shop health insurance and adds value because everything is right in your hand.

How about you set up with a new provider or doctor? Is the app useful from now on?

For me, there are many cases where I have been to a provider and a week later – or even later that day – my wife asks about the meeting and 60 percent of what we have discussed I have already forgotten. And there is relevant information that I need from these visits! Whether it’s a prescription, a drug application, instructions of some kind, or whatever, OneRecord gives me a better understanding of this information.

What would you tell your fellow veterans or military colleagues about these third-party applications?

I would say that these apps can serve as a tool that gives you more control over your life than your health and puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to understanding your health. If you want better control or you are in a situation where you need to improve your health, this is another tool that will help you with this.

What other features would you like to see with these apps? What isn’t there yet that you think would benefit veterans?

I will say that there was no time when more resources were available to veterans than now, whether it is about finances, technology, health, leisure – you call it. I see an opportunity to provide more resources to veterans for the transition from military to private sector or civilian life. It would be great to use resources that could help veterans find jobs that they can connect with and that will bring them satisfaction and joy, while contributing to the country’s economy and overall well-being.

Gabriel Villegas served as an Army intelligence officer for the 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, with one year of service in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He is currently working as a Lighthouse API Outreach Marketing Consultant for VA.

Learn more about all VA-approved related applications and the benefits they offer. You may also want to view mobile apps developed directly by VA, including the official VA health and benefits mobile app and apps to support COVID and mental health, PTSD support, smoking cessation help, insomnia relief, comprehensive health skills and tips to boost your health and VA Video Connect to connect to telehealth meetings.

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