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VA Awards $19.6M Contract for Veteran Care Access Mobile App

VA recently extended a multimillion dollar contract for a mobile patient self-scheduling system for veterans.

VA Patient Access

Source: Thinkstock

- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently granted a contract for $19.6 million to fund an online patient self-scheduling system accessible through a mobile application designed to improve patient care access for veterans.

Document Storage Systems, Inc. (DSS, Inc.) earned the contract for its commercially available, off-the-shelf online patient self-scheduling system technology.

The Faster Care for Veterans Pilot Program contract is intended to fund the technology necessary to support the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016, which states VA must establish an 18 month pilot program at a minimum of three Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) allowing for veterans to use mobile phones, tablets, computers, or handheld devices to schedule and confirm primary care, specialty care, and mental health appointments.

 “Patient self-scheduling is a core solution that addresses the fundamental challenge of providing the right access to care,” said DSS President and CEO Mark Byers. “We are proud to be playing a key role in helping to support Congressional mandates that allow Veterans to schedule and confirm medical appointments through their mobile devices. This allows Veterans to feel like true partners in their care processes.”

DSS will utilize its ForSite2020 scheduling software solution suite to offer a VistA-integrated veteran self-scheduling portal with a back-end module capable of configuring business rules.

The software solution suite also uses alerts aligned with VA rules to identify and prevent possible scheduling problems by notifying users when prerequisite services are required for a specific patient to receive care.

Under the Faster Care for Veterans Act, patient self-scheduling appointment systems must also have the following minimum capabilities:

  • Capability to schedule, modify, and cancel appointments for primary care, specialty care, and mental health.
  • Capability to support appointments for the provision of healthcare regardless of whether such care is provided in person or through telehealth services.
  • Capability to make available, in real time, appointments that were previously filled but later cancelled by other patients.
  • Capability to provide prompts or reminders to veterans to schedule follow-up appointments.
  • Capability to be used 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
  • Capability to integrate with the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture of the Department, or such successor information technology system.

The Faster Care for Veterans Act has also given rise to efforts to improve veteran access to healthcare including VA’s Mobile Veterans Appointment Request (VAR) app, which is presently in use at 99 health sites.

The VAR app possesses most of the key capabilities listed by the Faster Care for Veterans Act and will undergo further modifications and updates in the future to add more.

 “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,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “Self-scheduling apps are widely used in the private sector and will help create a better experience for Veterans and their medical-care providers.”

Similarly, CMS recently announced it will award a grant amounting to up to $30 million for clinical specialty societies, clinical professional organizations, and independent research organizations to develop quality measures under MACRA.

Entities interested in applying for the grant must provide the necessary medical specialty and patient perspectives to support the development of quality measure priorities of MACRA and further advance the Quality Payment Program options.

The application deadline for interested organizations closes on September 30 of 2017. Awards will be given on November 30, and the grant funding will apply for the 2018 fiscal year. 

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