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VA Launches Contest for Scheduling Appointments in its Nationwide Health System

January 11, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is challenging software developers to create new systems that schedule appointments in VA’s nationwide health system. 

Through a Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) contest, hosted on challenge.gov, VA will award as many as three prizes for the creation of an open-source and open application program interface (API)-based system to replace components of VA’s 25-year-old scheduling software in its VistA electronic health system. 

“This contest marks a major change in direction by VA, away from software that is so customized that only VA can use it, toward open standards and commercial systems that build on proven practices,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement.  “The competition will help us serve Veterans by encouraging ideas to provide more personalized care.”

VA uses the Medical Scheduling Package (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 currently relies on the MSP to perform non-scheduling functions including workload data capture and a broad range of workload and other management reports.  

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