VA program to schedule patient appointments on verge of collapse

Bob Brewin | Nextgov | March 31, 2009

An eight-year-old, $167 million project to develop a core computer application to schedule patient appointments at hospitals run by the Veterans Affairs Department has all but collapsed, and senior executives are worried about the repercussions it could cause on the Hill and in the White House, according to an internal memo obtained by Nextgov.

The Replacement Scheduling Application Development Program, which VA began building in 2001, "still has not developed a single scheduling capability it can provide to the field, nor is there any expectation of delivery in the near future," wrote Dr. Michael Kussman, undersecretary for health at the Veterans Health Administration, in a March 20 memo to Stephen Warren, acting assistant secretary for information and technology.

The scheduling application is a core piece of VA's new HealtheVet, a vast medical platform that will include patient enrollment and scheduling systems, a data repository, electronic health records, a pharmacy system, a workload management system, and a way for patients to manage their medical records and personal information. VA plans to use the system to replace its aging Veterans Health Information System and Technology Architecture (VistA), the Government Accountability Office reported on June 20, 2008...