Striving to respond to the needs of veterans in the wake of ongoing revelations about long waits and poor service, the Department of Veterans Affairs has embarked on an aggressive program to deploy tablets throughout the agency.
By the end of fiscal year 2014, the VA had distributed 7,500 Apple iPads to 18 facilities around the country. Physicians, nurses, radiologists, mental health and ancillary healthcare professionals, clinical support staff and clinicians of all stripes were invited to participate in the pilot.
CIO Stephen Warren says the agency will acquire up to 20,000 more tablets in the next fiscal year to improve patient care. Tablets give clinicians complete and secure access to patient records through a Citrix interface to VistA, the VA’s information system. Doctors can move from exam room to exam room, looking up test results while traversing the medial center and consulting with one another.
Local IT staff and assistants also use mobile technology to improve business processes, identify staffing needs and track payroll and budget uses. “Mobile devices help employees be more mobile in the day-to-day aspects of the job, but also help when unexpected circumstances arise, like inclement weather or building closures,” Warren says.
Chris Silva, a Gartner research director who focuses on mobility, says the VA is one of many organizations looking to use tablets to make their staff more efficient. “We get a lot of queries from organizations asking if they should move to a tablet from their notebooks. And while tablets can be an ideal form factor for some highly mobile roles, there are software and management considerations that must accompany these decisions,” he says.
Mobility at Justice
Department of Justice CIO Joseph Klimavicz says tablets are widely used throughout the agency’s divisions, and it has deployed more than 97,000 mobile devices in all.
Across DOJ, the agency uses a variety of tablets to meet mission needs. “We are focused on business productivity and providing staff with tools to access applications and files, share, and collaborate from anywhere, anytime,” Klimavicz says.