VA taps DSS for mobile patient scheduling tool

The $19.6 million contract will bolster patient access to care and is fully integrated with the VistA EHR.
By Jessica Davis
08:44 AM
VA taps DSS for mobile patient scheduling tool

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is continuing its overhaul of the agency and has awarded Document Storage Systems a $19.6 million contract for an off-the-shelf patient self-scheduling system through a mobile app to improve veterans’ access to care.

DSS is a health IT provider for federal, private and public healthcare agencies and currently works with the VA on numerous IT projects.

The latest contract will support the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016, which requires the VA to establish an 18-month trial program from which veterans can use any mobile device to schedule and confirm primary care, specialists and mental health appointments.

The Mobile Veterans Appointment Request tool, which is currently available at 99 VA healthcare sites, is modeled after other private sector patient scheduling apps. Officials said the VA will continue to incorporate new capabilities into the platform.

[Also: Everybody hates VistA? Not its users]

The app is fully integrated with VA’s VistA electronic health record. Officials said it incorporates alerts to identify and prevent potential scheduling issues, by indicating require prerequisite services for each patient. Patients can also manage both in-person and telehealth appointments through the app.

VA has been under fire for scheduling issues stemming from a 2014 scandal that revealed employees and managers were hiding the length of time patients were waiting to see a provider.

As a result, the VA, under Secretary David Shulkin, MD, is working toward the modernization of the entire VA network. Shulkin said he’ll decide on the fate of its outdated VistA EHR by July. He’s a vocal proponent of leveraging “innovative tools that will put more capabilities in the hands of veterans.”

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

“Patient self-scheduling is a core solution that addresses the fundamental challenge of providing the right access to care,” DSS President and CEO Mark Byers said in a statement. “This allows Veterans to feel like true partners in their care processes.”

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