August 27, 2014, WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new Medical Appointment Scheduling System; the next step in a series of actions VA has taken to replace its antiquated legacy scheduling system. The new system will improve access to care for Veterans by providing medical schedulers with cutting-edge, management-based scheduling software. The RFP will be made public by the end of September 2014; eligible vendors will have 30 days to respond from the day of issuance.
“We want this process to be open to all eligible vendors to make sure the Nation’s Veterans have the full benefits the innovative marketplace has to offer,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald. “When we can put a solid scheduling system in place, this will free up more human resources to focus on direct Veterans’ care. As VA recommits to its mission of caring for Veterans and evaluating our actions through the lens of what serves them best, we know a better scheduling system is necessary to provide them the timely, quality health care that they have earned and deserve.”
VA will issue a draft RFP prior to releasing the full RFP to maximize industry and stakeholder input. The solicitation will require a two-part demonstration of capabilities: a written proposal and a technical demonstration to scheduling staff. VA hopes to award the contract by the end of the calendar year.
“VA chose a full- and open-competitive strategy to acquire a ‘commercial, off-the-shelf’ scheduling system,” said Stephen Warren, VA’s Chief Information Officer. “We want a system that is user-friendly and tailored specifically for our Veterans.”
Even as VA issues an RFP to replace the existing system, efforts are underway to make the current system easier to use for schedulers and Veterans. Among those enhancements:
· VA recently awarded a contract to improve the existing scheduling interface, providing schedulers a calendar view of resources instead of the current text-based, multiple-screen view. This update is scheduled to begin roll out beginning in January 2015.
· VA is also developing mobile applications to allow Veterans to directly request certain types of primary care and mental health appointments (scheduled to begin deployment December 2014). Another application under development will give VA schedulers an easier-to-use interface to schedule medical appointments (scheduled to begin deployment December 2014).
· VA is also rolling out new clinical video telehealth capabilities in October 2014 to further enhance access to care.
As part of the current RFP preparation process, VA is working with Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) to incorporate the groups’ feedback on requirements important to Veterans. VA’s VSO partners are currently reviewing user experience and business process documentation, and VA will continue to consult with VSOs as it works toward publishing its acquisition solicitation.
VA’s acquisition process will comply with recently established legislative requirements related to the Department’s scheduling software.