Technology expands the patient provider connection and the ability to continue treatment during difficult times when in person access is limited. Defense Health Agency Connected Health’s Education and Training team works to create tools that will bring mobile health technology to patient care.

During COVID-19, with states under stay-at-home orders and regular office visits having turned virtual, a provider may be thinking, “How do I begin integrating technology with traditional care?” Many providers are uncertain of how to bridge the technology health gap with their patients. Now, health professionals can use a customized RX pad to formally prescribe mobile health apps to enhance their patient’s treatment plan. Health providers can download the DHA health technology prescription pad from the DHA Connected Health Education and Training website at http://health.mil/mHealthTraining.

DHA Connected Health Education and Training saw a need to help military providers find a trusted way to use mobile health technologies with their patients. The prescription pad enables providers to quickly locate DHA and Department of Veteran Affairs approved mobile health apps.

“It can be difficult for busy care teams to identify safe and evidence-based health technology to support health issues common in the military community,” Julie Kinn, DHA Connected Health Education and Training lead, said. “We wanted to make an easy-to-use resource that can help providers find good tools and make it easy to share these resources with their patients.”

As healthcare providers begin integrating technology, they may have questions about how to prescribe mobile apps in treatment.

“My recommendation is to be specific about the timing and how often the patient will use the technology,” Kinn said. “These are guidelines that will benefit both patient and provider as clinical care progresses.”

The prescription pad includes a choice of 24 mobile apps covering topics from mindfulness to post-traumatic stress disorder and mood tracking. Prescribing mobile apps allows a patient to work with a provider on an ongoing basis without being in the same location. This convenience helps to keep the service member on track and involved with a provider even while deployed. The back of the prescription pad provides patients with several additional support and informational resources.

When patients engage with prescribed mobile apps during treatment, they take an active role in their own care. Some studies show patient engagement leads to better health results overall.  

T2 Mood Tracker, for example, allows a patient to track emotions over time and enables the provider to see developing patterns through a report generator. Another highly-rated mobile app is the Virtual Hope Box, which helps patients with positive coping and emotion regulating skills. Patients can personalize the app with their family photos, media, personal messages, inspirational quotes and music, allowing them to complete meaningful homework assignments between provider visits. Connecting service members to a hopeful experience is the goal.

Technology and healthcare are constantly evolving fields, Kinn said, and DHA Connected Health’s Education and Training program continues to look for ways to support the military health provider with new tools and resources.