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VA Hits Milestone With 2 Million App Downloads

Officials say interest in the mobile application is an indicator of the tool’s staying power and importance of VA’s digital transformation.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs' Health and Benefits mobile app has hit 2 million downloads, according to VA officials. Photo Credit: Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs hit a major digital modernization milestone this month when the VA’s mobile app surpassed 2 million downloads. The success of the app is an indicator of the agency’s ability to connect with veterans, VA leadership said.

The VA Health and Benefits mobile app hosts more than one million users per month, who send over 400,000 messages and refill more than 250,000 prescriptions through the app, according to VA officials. It soft launched in 2021 and includes features like the ability to track scheduled appointments, fill out prescription refills, check claim status and securely message health care professionals.

VA Deputy CTO of Digital Experience Christopher Johnston told reporters in a media roundtable that “the work that this office has done on has really been a giant effort to abstract away the complexity that is VA.”

Johnston added that “[veterans] shouldn’t have to care what program office is delivering their benefit or which electronic health system is managing their health care. tries to be this single digital front door, where you can access everything and the app is effectively the same.”

“What we learned when we spoke with veterans in that 2020 timeframe is that there’s a couple unique capabilities of mobile phones that veterans were interested in leveraging to be able to access their VA services that we found were easier to deliver in an app,” said Charles Worthington, VA chief technology officer and chief artificial intelligence officer.

Human-centered design

Worthington highlighted features like using biometric login features like Apple’s Face ID or fingerprints, which can store their credentials for weeks before asking for authentication again. These features ease access for veterans, which contributes to a more frictionless experience.

“We really want to make sure, for example, with push notifications or the human-centered design process, that we reduce the number of clicks and reduce the amount of time and work overall,” said Rachel Han, product lead at the VA’s Office of Information and Technology. “On the simplification part, because mobile apps in general are a highly personalized, authenticated experience, we want to make sure that this experience is really simple for everyone.”

Han highlighted the ways that the app uses assistive technology like speech-to-text to get critical information quickly to veterans compared to physical mail while also aiding those with poor eyesight.

Trust in VA Grows

The success of the mobile app is one component of a larger accomplishment within the VA: the improvement of trust scores from veterans that interact with the VA. Since 2016, veteran trust in the VA has climbed from 55% to an all-time high of 80.4% across the agency, according to an internal VA survey. Trust in VA outpatient care is even higher. Since 2018, trust in VA outpatient care climbed from 85.6% to 91% in April 2024.

“This achievement is meaningful for a number of reasons. It’s meaningful because it is the voice of the veterans that we serve from across all different ages, service eras, locations, demographics, stating to us how we are delivering for them. We are measuring our performance based on how they feel about us, how they trust us, not how we think we’re doing, but how veterans are telling us how we are doing,” said VA Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer Barbara Morton.

Morton said that trust can be built organically by responding to what veterans and employees alike are telling leadership through the surveys the agency conducts.

For outreach for the mobile app, Worthington said that marketing efforts within VA medical centers and blog posts encouraged veterans to try the app for themselves. Worthington said that, even as the app onboarded more users, satisfaction ratings remained high.

Going forward, the VA looks to implement better ways to submit and be reimbursed for travel claim submissions on the mobile app. Also, officials said that they are looking to improve the app’s disability claim tool as well as develop the ability to check into appointments directly from the app.

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