Helping the Department of Veterans Affairs Implement a Cost-Effective, Open-Source Appointment Scheduling Application that is Interoperable with Legacy Enterprise Applications and Data
November 11, 2013 VETERANS DAY
In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a prize contest under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act 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. The VA intended to replace the current MSP with a standards-based, modular, extensible, scalable, and certified as compliant 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.
As a key member of the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Open Source Community Team Submission, Edmond Scientific provided the architecture and integration support between VistA and open source scheduling applications. This included enhancements to legacy VistA Scheduling through integration with other VistA packages requiring support, thereby reducing implementation risks. The solution contained a scheduling Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to establish an authoritative service for cross-facility scheduling complexity, optimization and with enterprise considerations taken into account, Integration to Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) and Open Source Software (OSS) products provided the functionality, such as a scheduling engine and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). The open source business rules engine provides an adaptive, supportive, and flexible approach for managing complexity of business logic and workflow associated with medical appointment scheduling. The solution also included open Application Programming Interfaces (API) for the SOA services to minimize the impact of cross-package dependencies within and beyond VistA, eliminating direct dependencies.
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.
Edmond’s Practice Director Tony Mallia states of his work on the award-winning contest submission “We 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.”
On Veterans Day, November 11th, 2013, Edmond Scientific President and CEO John Pitale, himself a Desert Storm combat veteran, will participate in the activities surrounding the HP Team donation. The $520,000 in prize money from this contest is being fully donated to the following Veterans Service Organization (VSO): $350,000 to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), $150,000 to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Association, and $10,000 each to both Fischer House and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).
ABOUT EDMOND SCIENTIFIC COMPANY
Edmond Scientific Company (www.edmondsci.com ) is an engineering and professional services company that delivers cost-effective solutions designed to address the unique information protection and information sharing needs of our Healthcare, Public Sector and Commercial sector clients. Edmond brings to your organization the architectural governance, integration engineering, application development, and expertise needed to provide secure, interoperable information solutions.
As a leading researcher and validator of security and information standards in information exchange, we also help organizations navigate and effectively implement interoperable solutions to provide secure information access that bridges incompatible protocols and standards, thus avoiding the costly impact of compliance and non-interoperability on your application development and business performance.