Veterans Affairs awards $19.6M for mobile scheduling system

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The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Wednesday the award of a $19.6 million contract for a mobile-friendly patient self-scheduling application.

Document Storage Systems won the award April 14 to provide its commercial off-the-shelf ForSite2020 scheduling software, which will allow veterans to schedule appointments on a computer or mobile device.

The contract supports the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016, which requires the VA to “establish an 18-month trial program operational in at least three Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs), under which Veterans can use a cell phone, tablet, computer or mobile device to schedule and confirm primary care, specialty care and mental health appointments,” according to a release.

“The VA is making critical improvements to Veteran health care, and will always look to leverage innovative tools that will put more capabilities in the hands of Veterans,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement. “Self-scheduling apps are widely used in the private sector and will help create a better experience for Veterans and their medical-care providers.”

According to the Florida health IT integrator, it will configure its software to “provide a VistA-integrated, Veteran self-scheduling portal with a powerful back-end module for configuring business rules” and incorporate “alerts that use VA rules to identify and prevent potential scheduling issues by indicating where prerequisite services are required for a particular patient.”

The application will allow veterans to schedule, modify or cancel appointments; view appointment availability in real-time; and receive reminders to schedule follow-up appointments at anytime of the day.

VA’s flawed scheduling systems have long been the criticism of lawmakers and watchdogs, stemming from technical glitches and deliberate manipulation of the scheduling system that resulted in veterans not receiving timely care and even dying while awaiting care. There’s also been concern over the lack of an adequate self-scheduling tool.

The department does have a self-scheduling application, called the Veterans Appointment Request app, but it’s currently available at 99 select locations. The VA says it will continue use and development of the VAR system.

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David Shulkin, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)