The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to overhaul its medical-scheduling software, which is integrated into its VistA electronic health record system.
The Department of Veterans Affairs
has launched an initiative
to replace the medical-scheduling component of its electronic health record platform
and is requesting proposals for how to update and rebuild the application.
The Medical Scheduling
Package (MSP) is part of the VA's Veterans Health Information Systems and
Technology Architecture (VistA) EHR platform. VistA manages the clinical data
for patients throughout the VA health system.
Serving more than 8.3
million veterans per year, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
is the largest integrated health system in the United States, the VA reports.
More than 25 years old, the
current medical-scheduling application is unable to manage the complexities of
multiple business processes, according to the VA.
The VA aims to make data from
multiple VistA health centers interoperable rather than keep data separate and
provide a single view of patient scheduling as well as clinical histories.
Multiple locations would be able to schedule patient appointments.
On Dec. 21 at the Federal
site, the VA issued a request for information (RFI)
to replace the medical-scheduling package.
Despite the goals of
interoperability, "reconciling these separate systems into a single
instance will not occur in the near-term future," the RFI states.
The department plans to
allow doctors and patients to schedule appointments in the new application on a
mobile device or in a Web browser.
"There is significant
growth in the younger veteran population that is comfortable using Web-enabled
technology and expects to be able to do business online," said the VA.
"Other veterans prefer traditional methods of engaging with VA."
A new medical-scheduling
system should also be able to handle the secure communications the VA requires.
A previous attempt to redesign the MSP cost more than $127 million, according
to the VA.
The government uses data in
the MSP to measure and manage care access for veterans. The MSP also manages
capital resources for VA health care.
A new medical-scheduling
application would be able to better link patients, clinicians and
supplementary health care services and create new ways to deliver clinical
care, the VA reports.
"We envision a
scheduling system which is a standards-based, modular, extensible and scalable
package, certified as compliant and fully interoperable with the
'golden' version of VistA now held by the Open Source Electronic Health
Record Agent (OSEHRA
)," said the VA.
The VA launched OSEHRA to
increase innovation for its EHR applications using open-source software
development as it merges VistA into a joint platform with the Department of
With its open-source framework,
the VistA EHR platform comprises more than 100 applications.
A new MSP would be able to
support the virtual telehealth
sessions that the VA conducts with patients in remote areas. On Nov. 4, the VA
announced an agreement with American
to provide Web visits through the vendor's Online Care service, which
uses two-way video, secure text chat and/or phone.
The VA plans a phased
approach to implementing the new medical-scheduling application, with nonscheduling
data being the primary data source.
In the first phase, the VA
would automate business rules for scheduling and link appointments for
in-facility and telehealth visits as well as allow veterans to interact with
the database over the Web or on a mobile device.
In the second phase, the VA
would remove the current scheduling application and allow for data sources to
The VA has set a deadline of
Jan. 31 for interested vendors to submit proposals for building the new
medical-scheduling application for VistA.