VA to update EHR medical scheduling component

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) hopes to replace the medical scheduling package (MSP) in its EHR system--and also to avoid the mistakes it made the last time it attempted to do so. The organization is actively soliciting advice from industry, academia and others before going forward, according to a request for information (RFI) published December 21.

The MSP is an essential component of the VA's Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) EHR system--and the current MSP is more than 25 years old, highly inefficient and no longer supports the linkages that VistA needs.

"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)," the RFI states.

The VA also envisions the new medical scheduling system to rely on web- and mobile-device services that enable reliable, fast and secure communications with veterans, support data-driven resource allocation decisions, and dynamically adjust capacity to meet changing needs. The VA notes that it expects the new MSP to be highly complex and expensive. The organization will implement it in phases to reduce implementation risks.

The agency last attempted to update the MSP in 2000. It abandoned the project in 2009 after spending $127 million. The Government Accountability Office identified several mistakes the VA made that contributed to the failure of that project, including inadequate planning, lack of competition in vendor solicitation, and not providing complete and detailed requirements for the project.

The VA is not taking chances this time around. "Given the important institutional changes in design, development and deployment of new capabilities and given the urgency and import of the replacement of the MSP, VA wants to remedy these deficiencies," according to the RFI.

Responses to the RFI are due January 31.

To learn more:
- read the VA request for information
- check out the Healthcare IT News article

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