US Army mCare app’s most-liked feature: appointment reminders

A two-year study on the mCare mobile messaging app used to support ‘Wounded Warriors’, published in the June issue of Telemedicine and e-Health, found that the most popular use of this US Army-implemented program was the appointment reminders (85 percent). 70 percent continued app usage for six months, with the same percentage using it multiple times per week, making the app very ‘sticky’. Other features were wellness tips, care team reminders, care team messaging and announcements. Average participation was 48 weeks. ‘My Appointments’ was created about halfway through the study (January 2010) and other rolling changes were made. The regional US Army Community-Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTU), which coordinate care for soldiers who receive outpatient care in civilian facilities due to distance from military facilities (and Guard/Reserve status), enrolled 497 veterans in five states who required at least six months of complex care. Satisfaction was high, with 78 percent of soldiers stating that mCare improved their experience in the transition unit, and half of the 75 care teams reporting that they saw an improvement in appointment attendance among patients using mCare.  The results are strong and mCare continues to be used by the Army. The study was headed by Col. Ronald K. Poropatich, MD, Deputy Director of the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC).

Unlike most other research studies, this one had some unusual hurdles to overcome. There were significant changes in ownership of mCare’s contracting company during the main study period (May 2009-April 2011, with a follow on study completed December 2012). First developed by AllOne Mobile [TTA 20 Nov 2009] with security provided by partly-owned Diversinet, AllOne ‘zeroed out’ of business halfway through the study [TTA 20 April 2010], with Diversinet picking up the program after a legal wrangle. mCare was named one of the US Army’s ‘Greatest Inventions’ in September 2011. Diversinet itself, after a seemingly successful period having its MobiSecure platform adopted by AirStrip [TTA 24 Feb 2012], a five-year, $5 million Canadian distribution deal [TTA 14 Jan 2011] and continuing military contracts, could not pull itself into financial health and was acquired by ‘velocity of big’ IMS Health for a small $3.5 million last AugustAdditional study coverage in Mobihealthnews and iHealthBeat.

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