VA names scheduling app contest winners

By Anthony Brino
01:14 PM

The Veterans Health Administration is looking for a new medical scheduling application — and now it has a range of choices from an app design competition.

With a slightly outdated scheduling system of limited functionality in use now, the VA started the contest to help find a system that could let patients create appointments online while improving scheduling and coordination management for providers. 

The VA chose three apps, out of 40 submitted as part of the contest, for both accolades and prize money. The winning submission, called Health eTime, offers veterans the ability to schedule visits online across VA locations and gives VA providers the ability to share appointments with veterans’ personal digital calendars and with other non-VA providers.

Health eTime was developed through a collaboration between software maker MedRed LLC, telecom company BT and the VISTA Expertise Network, all of whom will share the $1.8 million in prize money for first place.

Second and third place apps were submitted by a team at Oroville Hospital in northeastern California and by the HP Open Community Team, receiving $705,000 and $520,000, respectively.

The VA started the scheduling contest with the goal of eventually replacing a legacy component of the systems’ VistA open source software, and giving veterans more convenience.

“The VistA scheduling module is one of the oldest modules in VistA,” Rick Marshall, executive director of VISTA Expertise Network, said in a media release. “Modernizing it not only helps with the immediate complex issue of scheduling but also can provide some insight into the overarching challenge of VistA modernization.”

As the VA eyes a replacement for its medical scheduling system, demonstration “of open source compatibility in this contest may be taken into consideration in the rating of proposals in any subsequent procurement,” the agency said on the contest page.

In some ways the app contest lets the VA better survey its options pre-procurement, while also reducing some of the procurement burden. The VA attempted unsuccessfully to develop a scheduling replacement previously, but cancelled the project in 2009 after key planned capabilities remained undelivered and $127 million was spent.

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