‘Health Buddy’ helps veterans track disorders while traveling
: I have heard about a text-messaging device called "Health Buddy." Is this device utilized by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Hawaii?
Answer: The Health Buddy is a form of telemedicine available to qualified VA patients. The device is a small telehealth appliance (5 inches by 9 inches) that weighs just over a pound. It can be useful to veterans on trips and vacations where Internet access is available. It allows patients diagnosed with any of 45 disorders (including congestive heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, diabetes, mental illness and hypertension) to transmit daily health status reports to their VA care coordinators.
Veterans accomplish this by means of a text dialogue. By pressing one of four buttons, they answer multiple-choice questions about their breathing, weight and exercise. Since 2004, two extra ports have been provided that allow plug-in digital attachments that calculate weight, blood pressure and pulse oximetry. The data travels over the Internet to VA care coordinators, who then counsel patients on health strategies or alert them to the need for immediate medical intervention.
To be eligible for Health Buddy patients must have chronic ailments. They cannot be substance abusers or be visually handicapped. Veterans or their caretakers must have the ability to work the device. For more information on Health Buddies or how to qualify for one, contact the VA Medical Center at 433-0600.
Q: How does the VA determine the level of compensation paid to a veteran?
A: Disability compensation is a monthly benefit paid to veterans based on injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or were made worse by active military service. VA must obtain evidence to establish that the disability claimed is the result of the veteran's military service. VA then evaluates the medical evidence and assigns a disability rating percentage. VA evaluates each service-related condition in 10 percent increments. Once the medical evidence is evaluated and a percentage rating assigned, VA pays the amount of compensation provided by law for that rating. For additional information on VA disability compensation, contact the VA at (800) 827-1000.
If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.