The VA: Health and Benefits app improves the customer experience by centralizing veteran services.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a new mobile app, VA: Health and Benefits, which centralizes health and benefits information, allowing veterans to better navigate the agency’s services.
VA soft-launched the app in August 2021; since then, more than 800,000 veterans have downloaded it. Through the interface, veterans can view and cancel medical appointments, view the status of claims and appeals, upload documents, message their doctor, locate facilities, and more. It also provides access to the VA Crisis Line.
“It’s designed to be a single, secure platform that allows veterans to manage their services wherever they are, right in your pocket,” explained Chris Johnston, deputy technical director of digital experience at VA during an episode of Talking Tech last week. a personalized experience so people can do things like check the status of a claim, secure a message to your provider, or find a location.
The app also allows veterans to update their VA profile, benefits, personal information, military history, and banking information. VA has streamlined this process, so new entries will be updated across most agency functions and units.
VA strives to unify its platforms, including va.gov, My HealtheVet, the Health and Benefits app and more, they are based on “one source of truth”, providing the same capabilities and information on all agency digital services.
“One of the things that’s important to note is that changing this information will change it in most VA capabilities and it didn’t before,” Johnston said. “Previously, if I went to say my health appointment and changed my phone number there, it was only at this clinic that I changed my phone number. Changing it here will change it, not absolutely everywhere, but most places.
Updating military history in the app will become even more critical with the signing of the PACT Act. Under the new legislation, a veteran’s service is directly linked to their eligibility for benefits.
“We want to be able to reflect that to you, make sure we have all the locations you’ve served to see if you might be eligible for those additional benefits,” Johnston said.
Veterans can also submit forms to VA by taking photos of documents and uploading those documents to the court, saving them time and money. Johnston said there is “no room for error” with this new method, as claims and forms are filed automatically.
Security plays a key role in the app. The app offers two-factor authentication and encryption to ensure privacy.
“All secure information is encrypted in transit to and from its destination,” Johnston said. “These items all come from secure databases within the VA secure enclave, if you will, which can only be accessed through secure, verified requests.”
VA recently added a new vaccine feature to its app, which provides veterans with vaccine and medication history. As VA continues to develop the app, the agency plans to add new features over the coming year, such as renewing prescriptions, requesting appointments, and managing payments.
“What we’re seeing today, on websites, not mobile apps, is that almost 50% of users who visit the website are on mobile. [device]”, Johnston said. “We see 13 million people a month on the website. That’s seven and a half million people a month… [who] could very easily benefit from using the mobile app. We want to make sure we build things to meet all of their needs.