Thursday, May 29, 2014

VA Awarded $3M in Prizes in Appointment Scheduling App Contest in 2013

     In October 2013, as the nation was focused on the deeply flawed rollout of the Healthcare.gov Obamacare marketplace, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) awarded $3 million in prizes to three participants in the agency's Medical Appointment Scheduling Contest. The contest was announced in 2012 to help the VA make the move to a more modern and flexible scheduling system:
VA’s current Medical Scheduling Package (MSP) is a component of VistA; it’s legacy electronic health record (EHR) system. The MSP not only makes appointments for clinicians, but also captures data that allows VA to measure, manage, and improve efficiency and access to care. However, VA’s current MSP is more than 25 years old. It neither meets current requirements, nor does it provide the flexibility needed to adapt for future needs[.]
    A press release from the contest winner MedRed noted that the:
VA started to develop a Medical Scheduling Package replacement in 2000. This effort was not successful.  When VA ended the project in 2009, none of the planned capabilities were delivered. It had cost more than $127 million.
    The prize-winning app, Health e-Time, was developed in about two and a half months according to MedRed's CEO William Smith, and was actually a collaboration between MedRed, telecom company BT and the VISTA Expertise Network, who will all split a $1.8 million first prize.
    According to GovernmentHealthIT, the Health e-Time application "offers veterans the ability to schedule visits online across VA locations and gives VA providers the ability to share appointments with veterans’ personal digital calendars and with other non-VA providers.
    Just this past week, CalConnect, a calendering and scheduling consortium, held a "Workshop on VA Scheduling System" at its conference in Dulles, VA, and William Smith of MedRed addressed attendees about the contest and his company's winning entry Health e-Time. Smith has previously described Health e-Time as "an open-source solution that could seamlessly integrate with VistA, the VA’s Electronic Health Record system."
    Second and third place prizes were awarded for the contest as well, earning $705,000 and $512,000 respectively. There were a total of forty-one entries submitted.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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