OCE Partnership Impact - National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
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OCE Partnership Impact

New mobile app to offer Veterans support of social determinants of health

A collaboration between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and technology company IBM has led to the development of a mobile app that supports the lifestyle and health needs of Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. This innovative app combines artificial intelligence with science-based brain assessments and games to create a unique profile for each user. It includes tailored tools and guidance for supporting users’ ongoing physical and mental health.

While not yet available to the public, the Getting Results in Transition (GRIT) app aims to help Veterans and other users monitor and measure their health in terms of conditions in their environment, such as access to education, employment, and housing. Together, these conditions are called social determinants of health (SDOH). Based on research published in November 2019 by the Society of General Internal Medicine, support of positive SDOH leads to better health outcomes, while lack of support for them—or exposure to adverse SDOHs, such as homelessness or violence—is a strong predictor of suicide risk. According to the GRIT website, the app was designed to address “the growing concern about the rate of suicide among Veterans especially during the transition from activity duty to civilian life.”

SDOH is the theme of this year’s Community Partnership Challenge, led by the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) Office of Community Engagement (OCE). OCE is a trusted resource and a catalyst for the growth of effective partnerships at the national, state, and community level. Partnerships supported by OCE contribute to Veterans’ health and well-being.

“Partnerships with companies like IBM serve as force multipliers, expanding services and programs available through VA,” said Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich, acting director of OCE. “Our focus on SDOH is in recognition that these are often related factors in a Veteran’s life and improving them supports the optimum health and well-being of our nation’s heroes.”

In the second half of 2019, IBM worked with VA and other partners to recruit hundreds of current and former service members to help improve the app’s utility and user experience in real-life settings. The pilot test focused on the app’s interactions with Veterans seeking civilian employment. Access to employment is an SDOH, and employment contributes to other SDOH, such as food security, housing, transportation, and more.

The volunteer participation provided a large data set that IBM will use to improve the app before it’s fully available to the public. Stay tuned for information about the release date here: https://www.ibmgrit.org/#top

To learn more about how OCE builds effective partnerships across VHA to support Veterans, visit: https://www.va.gov/HEALTHPARTNERSHIPS/partnerships.asp.

External Link Disclaimer: This page contains links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

Posted March 03, 2020