The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued a request for proposal for a new Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS), part of new initiatives to improve access to care.

Proposals are due on January 9, 2015, and VA expects to award the contract by the spring.  The selected bidder shall provide a system “that focuses on an achievable schedule to deliver core capabilities” to all VA medical facilities within the first two years of the contract. The remaining capabilities will be implemented nationally in a series of incremental enhancements throughout the contract period of performance.

“When it comes to the care of our veterans, we want the best technology the American marketplace can provide,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a written statement. “A new and innovative scheduling system is an essential tool we must have in place to enable us to provide our veterans with timely and high quality healthcare.”

VA has come under fire for dysfunctional processes that led to many veterans not receiving care in a timely manner, resulting in some deaths. In an effort to improve access to care and reduce the waiting time for appointments, the new software will replace a legacy scheduling system in use since the mid-1980s. 

In the meantime, VA announced that it has made several near-term modifications to its current scheduling system including awarding a contract to improve the existing scheduling interface, and providing schedulers with a current calendar view of resources in lieu of the current text-based, multiple-screen view. That update is slated to begin rollout in January 2015.In addition, VA says it is developing mobile applications allowing veterans to directly request certain types of primary care and mental health appointments that will be deployed starting in December 2014. 

 The VA’s scheduling system RFP can be found here.

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