The Veterans Affairs Department has rolled out a suite of apps for clinicians and patients that pull information from the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture electronic health record. Among the patient-facing apps is a secure messaging tool for communicating with doctors and nurses, but soon it plans to take that tool a step further and begin communicating visually with the patient.
Simple, focused design can greatly enhance user experience and functionality of mobile apps, a panel said in a Sept. 25 DigitalGov University webinar. Design must be streamlined for the user experience, National Institutes of Health Project Manager David Hale said during the webinar.
Ninety-one percent of American adults own a cellphone, finds a Pew Internet and American Life study published Sept. 19. The most popular activity besides talking on the cellphone is text messaging, with 81 percent of those surveyed saying they send or receive texts.
The Food and Drug Administration plans to regulate mobile applications as medical devices based on their intended use and only if they pose a risk to patient safety if they malfunction. Generally, the FDA says it will see apps as medical devices if their intended use is to diagnose, treat or prevent diseases.
Working in an area affected by a disaster means connectivity can be a challenge. Cells on wheels and light trucks only go so far to re-establish connectivity, said Karole Johns, program manager for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster assistance improvement program.
"Oftentimes, you're the first one there. You're going to have the best infomation. We wanted to give you a way to share that," said Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA.
In February 2012, the White House directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to convene stakeholders to develop codes of conduct that would specify how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies in certain contexts. In June 2012, NTIA announced that the first such process would address transparency in mobile application privacy.
As agencies look to make more of their services available through mobile devices, the General Services Administration says it's on hand to walk them through the entire mobile development lifecycle. The new mobile development program is anchored by GSA's recently- launched website, which was a requirement under the Digital Government Strategy, said GSA Mobile Programs Manager Jacob Parcell during a May 30 webinar.
"Agency developers looking to jump-start their efforts can find source code for native and web projects from a variety of sources: federal agencies, other governments, and third-parties in the private sector," writes Mike Pulsifer, lead IT specialist for the division of enterprise communications at the Labor Department, in a May 13 blog post.
Digital "go-bags" consisting of mobile applications are just as important as traditional go-bags packed in advance of emergencies and disasters, said National Library of Medicine officials during a webinar April 25.