VA Sponsors Contest to Find Best Possible Scheduling Software

Stephen Spotswood | US Medicine | March 1, 2013

Many of the changes at VA over the last several years have been in furtherance of resource management—finding ways to more efficiently use the money, facilities, and healthcare resources provided to them. This includes one of the most precious of commodities: physicians’ time.

VA is currently seeking assistance in finding ways to better allocate this resource in the form of modernized scheduling software and in October launched the VA Medical Appointment Scheduling Contest (vascheduling.challenge.go). It is a competition soliciting private industry to encourage the creation of updated, open-source software that would accommodate the rapidly evolving needs of the department. Up to three winning submissions—ones that succeed in creating the best proof of concept software—could win as much as $3 million each.

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...