B3 Group Develops Whole Health Mobile Application for the VA

Background

The Whole Health Mobile Application is designed to assist Veterans and other end users in setting actionable goals for a healthy lifestyle. The Whole Health approach is a reorientation of the user’s relationship with the VA and combines state-of-the-art conventional medicine with personalized health planning, complementary and integrative health approaches, and innovative self-care approaches. Through the Whole Health approach, users have access to health coaches, health and well-being information, education on managing their health, and a host of resources that support the user’s achievement of their personal health goals.

Veterans are generally introduced to this application when meeting with their Whole Health Coach. Their coach trains users through a self-exploration process looking at their own health and well-being, starting with their Personal Health Inventory and finishing with the beginning of their Personal Health Plan.

B3 Group is working on the beta release, focusing on a select group of Veterans to test drive the application. The beta release will focus on migrating the manual, paper-driven process that the Whole Health Coaches currently use to a fully digital application. After the beta group has had a chance to work through the application, the B3 Group team will take participants’ feedback and incorporate their notes into the nationally released product.

Over the next several years, the B3 Group team will continue to make enhancements to the application. Early goals include allowing users to create communities within the application and to integrate with basic healthcare information provided by their doctors, such as weight and height measurements and cholesterol scores.

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Collaboration

Challenges

The main challenge of this project is ensuring testing can keep up with the fast turnaround time of the development team. As a mobile application, every feature of the product must be tested on multiple versions of the latest iOS and Android devices. Defects found could be issues across the board or even on just one device. Not only can this cause testing to become a bottleneck due to the time it takes to test each feature, but with so many ways to use the application, the defect correction time can become cumbersome. Additionally, with the rate that new phones and iOS/Android versions are released, keeping up with buying these devices in order to accurately test becomes expensive.

Solution

In order to mitigate the potential issues with mobile application testing, the B3 Group team opted for utilizing an automated testing platform, Sauce Labs. This resource provides parallel testing of web browsers, emulators of browsers and operating systems, and cloud access to real mobile devices.

By utilizing Sauce Labs, the B3 Group team can test multiple browsers/operating systems at once, with defects being tagged according to where they are found. There is also no need for buying the latest mobile devices since Sauce Labs keeps up with emulators and cloud access. This approach ensures testing is efficient and inexpensive with the ability to scale with technology as it rapidly changes. This solution has been in place for approximately four months with no issues and has allowed the team to stay on schedule.

Results

The B3 Group team has been able to marry its health IT background with this ground-breaking technology that can directly improve Veterans’ lives. With a team made up of individuals with public health and behavioral health insights, B3 Group has been able to overcome projects challenges to help Veterans lead a healthy lifestyle.

To quote the B3 Group Project Manager, Shani Rolle, “Knowledge does not equal behavior. Focusing on helping Veterans find a reason to WANT to stay healthy is just as important as teaching them HOW to. B3 Group is excited to continue growing our mobile application portfolio as we continue to provide Veterans with excellent service.”