Epic grabs VA software contract

Veterans Affairs enlists Epic and a Lockheed unit to address one of its biggest pain points
By Tom Sullivan
10:47 AM
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Whereas Epic late last month lost out on the Defense Department's massive modernization contract, the EHR maker is part of a team that won a smaller but notable bid this week. 

Epic, along with Lockheed Martin subsidiary Systems Made Simple, inked a five-year $624 million contract with Veterans Affairs.

The deal is nowhere near the $4.3 billon that DoD awarded Cerner and Leidos for the first phase, of course, but it does hold the potential for a big payoff – publicity-wise at least – because the work Epic and SMS signed up to undertake addresses one of VA's most public pain points: patient scheduling.

[Related: 7 things DoD demanded in Cerner EHR.] 

What VA is calling the Medical Appointment Scheduling System, or MASS, "is expected to enhance and simplify the viewing and making of appointments convenient to veterans, along with improving the coordination of care and appointment reminders," according to the award posting in FedBizOps. "MASS will allow clinicians to better utilize rooms, support staff and equipment in service of Veterans' needs."

VA's persistent scheduling problems have been perhaps its biggest nightmare of late, even earning mockery by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show last summer, and enough public attention to trigger a grave investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives that effectively forced VA officials to admit that long wait times were associated with a number of veterans dying for lack of care.

MASS is one piece of VA's overall strategy "to provide state-of-the-art electronic health record, scheduling, workflow management and analytics capabilities to frontline caregivers," officials noted in FedBizOps.

Whether MASS will simply make it easier for veterans to schedule appointments or actually reduce wait times in a significant way remains to be seen. 

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