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FCW : October 30, 2013
ederal agencies are get- ting serious about serving constituents through mobile devices. As some see it, they have little choice. On the one hand, the federal government's open data policy requires them to make "information resources accessible, discoverable, and usable by the public." On the other hand, tight or shrinking budgets make it dif- cult for agencies to invest more in expanding access to data or services. Mobile provides a cost- effective way to do that. For example, the Veteran Affairs Department recently took a step forward with its customer service by releasing guidelines for devel- opers and companies so that they can create new apps for inclusion in the agency's New Models of Care (NMOC) program. Under the NMOC paradigm, veterans can get care at home instead of at a VA hospital, savings the agency money and helping the patient be more comfortable. Recently, the agency started test- ing an app that addressed post- traumatic stress disorder, letting veterans screen, track and manage their symptoms. "While these apps, such as PTSD Coach, are not a replace- ment for clinical care, we hope to increase our reach to reluctant Vet- erans and to provide them with the information that they need to make good decisions about their health within or outside of the VA health- care system," said a VA spokes- woman. "We hope that these tools will improve the quality of care they receive and ultimately help them live healthier lives." Of course, developing and creat- ing an app isn't easy. It requires new skill sets, technology and focus. Something as simple as version control can derail a project. For instance, when an agency does release an app, it must become vigilant about checking for and no- tifying constituents about fraudulent apps that mimic the interface, func- tionality and even names of agency- developed and authorized apps. This is not a problem that agen- cies have had to worry about when developing apps for their own employees. "While it's easier to manage which apps are being pushed out to employees, there's really no way to make sure constituents download the right apps," agrees Brent Iadarola, Frost and Sullivan's research director for its mobile and wireless group. IT managers also must carefully examine usage patterns of apps so that they can identify problems or issues immediately, said David Eads, founder of Mobile Strategy Partners. "You're looking for technical issues and user issues," he said. "You might also have a user is- sue that's manifesting itself as a technical issue, so it's imperative to measure and monitor constituents' movement through the work ow." For example, are they abandon- ing the app at a speci c point or spending too long on an action that should move very quickly? Even statistics about how often constitu- ents are using an app can give you good insight into its effectiveness, said Eads. However, the bene ts of an external app strategy can be huge. The VA is a good example. To date, the VA's post-traumatic stress disorder app -- PTSD Coach, which is available for iOS and Android -- has been downloaded more than 100,000 times across 74 countries, according to the VA. Sponsored Report MOBILE STRATEGIES The other side of mobility: Connecting with constituents FULL REPORT ONLINE Go to FCW.com/2013MobileStrategies Other Mobile Strategies
September 30, 2013
November 15, 2013