The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded Systems Made Simple a contract worth $624 million to modernize the VA’s antiquated system for managing medical appointments.

The Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS), which replaces a legacy scheduling system in use since the mid-1980s, will provide patient-centric and resource-based scheduling for VA that will enhance and simplify the viewing and making of appointments, as well as improve care coordination and appointment reminders. In addition, MASS is meant to enable clinicians to better utilize rooms, support staff, and equipment.

The system modernization is in response to inefficiencies at VA facilities which have for years failed to provide timely healthcare to veterans by inaccurately recording the required dates for appointments and inconsistently tracking new patients waiting for outpatient medical appointments. In some cases, the delays in care or VA’s failure to provide care at all have resulted in harm to veterans and even deaths.

Also See: VA’s PHR and Portal Not Reaching High-Priority Vets

To reverse these problems, winning bidder Systems Made Simple—a Lockheed Martin company—will provide a VA scheduling system with features that include:

*Management of the appointment lifecycle, from standardized requests for care to patient data collection and reporting;

*Improvement of clinical resource management, including open access between VA facilities and those outside VA to view available enterprise resources and allow for the coordination and fulfillment of requests, and;

*Display of real-time supply, demand, quality and resource utilization metrics to better manage patient care.

The VA’s goal is to deploy MASS in two years through a series of six month increments or less. However, the system can’t come fast enough. A 2014 internal VA audit of its scheduling and access management practices found that there were 57,436 veterans nationwide waiting to be scheduled for care, and another 63,869 who over the past 10 years have enrolled in the VA healthcare system and have not been seen for an appointment.

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