To stay organized and in charge of his health, Army Veteran Gabriel Villegas uses a third-party mobile app that has been vetted and approved by VA. These apps connect directly to a Veteran’s VA.gov profile and allow the user to access personal VA data, such as health or service records. They’re called “third-party” because VA doesn’t create these services. And you’re never required to use them.
Villegas recently took some time to share his experience using OneRecord, an app that lets users build a consolidated medical record of their full health history, among other features.
This app is one of many ways Veterans can access their VA data plus health and service records. It is not the only option. Sharing this user story is provided as information to other Veterans, and does not constitute endorsement of the app by VA.
Thinking of the apps you generally use most often, what features or functions do you find most valuable? How does OneRecord compare?
From an expectation standpoint, everything in an app should be easy, and navigation should be intuitive and clear. More importantly, an app should help you get what you need from the experience and get you back to living your life. With OneRecord, it’s very user-friendly. You can use face ID to log in and connect directly to VA. The dashboard is intuitive and allows you to find what you need easily, allowing you to drill down to the record you need.
Has the app been useful in day-to-day life? Are there real-world benefits?
What caught my attention about OneRecord is that it lets you upload files and collect your records in one place. It brings back memories of being in the Army when my wife and I moved around seven times in seven years. With every move, there’s a process of going to the medical center or provider and obtaining hard copies of medical records, putting those in my file box, and carrying it over to the next duty station or city I was moving to. Then you have to find a new doctor and deposit that paperwork with them. Sometimes they don’t want the hard copies, and sometimes the previous provider doesn’t want to spend the hours faxing over 400 sheets of records. It can just become a nightmare.
The app lets me upload my own files and serves as an electronic filing cabinet. I can use it to connect to my health records, I can incorporate health insurance, manage claims, and manage insurance records. It’s like a one-stop shop for health insurance, and it adds value because everything is right there in your hand.
What about after you’re set up with a new provider or doctor? Is the app useful from that point?
For me, there are plenty of times when I’ve been to a provider and a week later – or even later that day – my wife asks about the appointment and 60 percent of what we discussed I’ve already forgotten. And there’s relevant information that I need from those visits! Whether it’s a prescription, application of a medication, instructions of some kind, or whatever it might be, OneRecord gives me a better grasp of that information.
What would you tell your fellow Veterans or military colleagues about these third-party apps?
I’d say these apps can serve as a tool that gives you more control over your life relative to your health and puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to understanding your health. If you want better control or you’re in a position where health improvement is needed, this is another tool that will help you with that.
What other features would you like to see with these apps? What is not out there yet that you think would benefit Veterans?
I will say that there hasn’t been a time when more resources have been available to Veterans than there are now, whether it’s finance, technology, health, leisure – you name it. I do see an opportunity to provide more resources to Veterans for the transition phase from the military to the private sector or civilian life. It would be great to leverage resources that could help Veterans find jobs they can relate to and that will bring them fulfillment and joy while still contributing to the economy and overall well-being of the country.
Gabriel Villegas served as an Army Intelligence Officer for the 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and was stationed in Fort Carson, Colo., with a year on duty in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He currently works as a Lighthouse API Outreach Marketing Consultant for VA.
Learn more about all the VA-approved connected apps and the benefits they offer. You might also want to check out Mobile apps developed by VA directly, including the official VA Health and Benefits Mobile app, and apps for COVID and mental health support, PTSD support, help to stop smoking and drinking, insomnia relief, whole health skills and tips to boost your health, and VA Video Connect for connecting to telehealth appointments.