VA Still Mulling Timeline for New Scheduling System

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson Jose Luis Magana/AP File Photo

Agency IT officials are still hammering out details for the overhaul.

Last month, acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson said development of a new scheduling system would help move veterans out of the waiting-list limbo that delayed vets’ medical care across the country and contributed to the resignation of Eric Shinseki as VA Secretary.

“Our top priority is getting veterans off wait lists and in to see their doctors … We need lasting, long-term reforms, including a complete overhaul to replace the outdated technology for our scheduling system,” Gibson said June 18.

More than a month has passed since Gibson called for that overhaul, and VA spokeswoman Jo Schuda told me today the VA information technology staff is still mulling how to proceed. “OIT (Office of Information and Technology) says VA is still determining what acquisition route to pursue and a potential date,” she said.

After a decision is made and VA acquires a new scheduling system to replace the Electronic Wait List system, which was first deployed in 2002, VA will roll it out incrementally across its health-care regions, according to presentations made to industry June 18.

Steve Green, a program manager in the VA OIT, told industry-day attendees VA will first field-test the new scheduling system in small, medium and large medical facilities across the country.

Then, he said, VA will roll it out across its 23 health-care regions, training end users, including clinicians and clinical support staff as well as network and systems administrators.

The time it will take to roll out the new scheduling system depends on the number of clinical areas it will support. The system will also handle remote telehealth appointments and online appointments, Green said.

This all looks like it could amount to a real long slog to get such a ”crucial” system fully fielded. Maybe former Procter and Gamble exec Robert McDonald will address the issue at his Senate VA Committee confirmation hearing, which starts 3 p.m. today, viewable on the committee website and C-SPAN 3.