Helping Veterans make Appointments for VA Outpatient Ambulatory Care by Creating Systems that are Compatible with Open Source VistA
In 2012, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a prize contest under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. The purpose of the contest was to encourage development of systems that help Veterans schedule appointments to receive outpatient and ambulatory care from the VHA.
The contest was opened up to the Health Information Technology (HIT) industry, effectively encouraging a collaborative approach with industry and VA, using open standards in an open-community development initiative. The benefits resulting from the VA casting a wide-net across industry were enormous and resulted in creating an open-source solution. As an additional outcome of the contest, the VA sought to obtain information to reduce the risks inherent in procurement and deployment of a replacement Medical Scheduling Platform (MSP).
The VA uses MSP, a component in its VistA electronic health record (EHR) system, to bring patients, clinicians and other resources together so health care can be delivered. The MSP also captures data that allows VA to measure, manage and improve access to care, quality of care, operating efficiency and operating and capital resources. VA intended to replace the current MSP with a standards-based, modular, extensible and scalable, certified as compliant and fully interoperable with the production version of VistA now held by the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA). The replacement product will deliver privacy, security, data integrity, patient accessibility, interoperability and other services required by federal law, regulations and VA policy.
VA anticipates that compatibility with Open Source VistA will be among the requirements in any subsequent procurement of a replacement for the MSP. Demonstration of open source compatibility in this contest was taken into consideration in the rating of proposals in any subsequent procurement.
One of the contest winners, the HP team’s “Open-community” solution included team member, Edmond Scientific Company. Referring to their work on the award-winning HP team, an Edmond spokesperson said, “Edmond contributed the rapid development of an integration architecture based on industry standards which was supported by open source implementations. This in turn could be used for the pilot. The integration architecture defined the collaboration between the subsystem teams to achieve the user stories. Our submission was focused on VA’s long-term need and less so on the contest criteria, but explored some of the most difficult challenges.”
The prize money from this contest have been donated to the following Veterans Service Organization (VSO): Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Disabled American Veterans Association, Fischer House and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
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