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The Veterans Affairs Department has launched a competition to modernize the software that helps veterans schedule medical appointments as VA moves its VistA electronic health record to open source applications.
The department wants to enable veterans to schedule their own appointments electronically via online and mobile devices.
VA intends to replace the current medical scheduling package with one that is standards-based, modular, extensible and scalable, and certified to work with the production version of VistA now held by the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA).
The current scheduling software is 25 years old and cannot perform requirements of emerging care delivery models, according to an announcement in the Oct. 16 Federal Register.
VA’s medical scheduling package also captures data so it can measure, manage and improve access to care, quality of care, operating efficiency and operating and capital resources.
Through the competition, VA wants to obtain information that will help it to understand and subsequently reduce “various risks in the procurement and deployment of complex mission critical software which integrates with VA's VistA system,” VA said in the announcement.
[See also: DSS hands open source search tool over to OSEHRA]
VA also anticipates that the contest will encourage vendors to develop tools by providing a basis on which VA can rate proposals when it decides to acquire a replacement for the scheduling software.
Entries for the contest must be submitted by March 1, 2013.
VA will award prizes of as much as $3 million to up to three entrants that deliver demonstration software or services, which the judges determine delivers the required functionality and is compatible with Open Source VistA.
Currently, while veterans schedule appointments to receive care from any physician in their Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT), which is VA's implementation of the patient-centered medical home model, referrals to specialists may come from the patient’s team but also from emergency departments, community providers or from the patients. Veterans generally schedule their own follow-up appointments with specialists or specialty care services without the intervention of the patient’s PACT.
Appointment scheduling is primarily via telephone, in person, or mail. A VA employee is currently required to make appointments.
In addition to enabling veterans to schedule their own appointments, VA also needs to schedule and coordinate care across internal and external administrative, or system, boundaries. For example, veterans may choose to live in different states at different times of the year and need to make appointments to receive care where they live when they need it.