(Reuters) - Apple Inc on Wednesday said that U.S. military veterans who use its iOS devices and get medical care from the Veterans Health Administration will be able to access their health records on the devices.
The Department of Veterans Affairs runs the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States, with 9 million veterans enrolled and more than 1,200 facilities. Apple began working with the department this summer to allow access to health records from the system on iPhones and other Apple mobile devices running its iOS operating system.
An arm of the Veterans Affairs Department in Atlanta eliminated 208,272 applications from across the country for health care early this year amid efforts to shrink a massive backlog of requests, saying they were missing signatures or information about military service and income, according to records reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Veterans groups say the VA should have done more to communicate with the veterans before closing their applications, some of which date back to 1998. Troops face additional challenges in applying for VA health care, they said, as they grapple with reentry into civilian life, change addresses following overseas deployments and suffer from combat stress.
In the middle of the controversy is the VA's Health Eligibility Center, the Atlanta office that oversees the process by which veterans seek access to the VA medical system. It and its parent agency have come under intense scrutiny in recent years for mismanagement and delays in providing medical care, presenting a thorny challenge for the administration of President Donald Trump, who focused on veterans' care during his presidential campaign.
In 2009, the Department of Defense introduced the so-called 'Golden Hour' mandate. This led to the development of systems that ensured the injured warfighter access to surgical care within 60 minutes of injury.
Substance abuse and mental health issues are on the rise in the military community, and TRICARE — the insurance provider for service members and their families — is announcing it will offer expanded options to help members attack those problems.