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Situation

Over 50,000 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees use the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) scheduling platform to make approximately 81 million outpatient appointments each year. As Veterans face an increasingly complex healthcare needs, the VA must adapt quickly by developing and implementing comprehensive enhancements to existing appointment scheduling capabilities. In light of this reality, the VA initiated the VistA Scheduling Enhancements Phase 2 Application and Functionality Modernization (VSE Phase 2 AFM) project.

Focus Areas
  • Integrated Master Schedule
  • Software Quality Assurance
  • Interoperability
  • Dependency Analysis

Need

Ultimately, the VSE Phase 2 AFM project endeavors to identify, develop, and implement a scheduling solution that can serve as a bridge between the legacy VistA scheduling platform and next-generation commercial scheduling products. This objective requires the VSE Phase 2 AFM project team to have both a near and long-term focus by delivering immediate improvements and fixes to existing VistA software while also facilitating an ongoing enterprise transition towards a modernized scheduling system.

Action

VSE Phase 2 AFM project team established a project management office (PMO) to document, track, and remediate issues found during VistA software quality assurance testing or from users submitting service desk tickets. This includes several key coordinating efforts: first, with VistA software development teams to address specific issues in a series of software patches; second, with VA Initial Operating Capability (IOC) test sites to test the software patches; and third, with VSE Phase 2 AFM management to adapt IOC test results into specifications for a next-generation appointment scheduling platform.

Results

Since the advent of VSE Phase 2 AFM, relationships with IOC test facilities have strengthened and grown significantly. VistA software is currently cleared for testing at over twenty different IOC facilities, roughly triple the set of sites utilized in the months immediately preceding initiation of the project. This expansive testing capability has resulted in minimal VistA system downtime, preventing Veterans from suffering unnecessary delays and difficulties in receiving urgent healthcare.

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