Contest Looks to Create New Scheduler for VA EHR

 VA Launches Contest for Scheduling Appointments

VA Hosts Contest

In September 2009 President Obama outlined and initiated his Strategy for American Innovation. He called on agencies to “increase their ability to promote innovation by using tools such as prizes and challenges to solve tough problems.” The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) then issued the guidelines on challenges, contests, and prizes in March of 2010. The guidelines provide a policy and legal framework to guide agencies in using prizes to advance their missions through innovation. was created as a platform for agencies to list, track, and promote their challenges.

Now the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to create new systems to schedule appointments in the VA’s health system and is offering a content hosted on the website. For this contest the VA will award up to three prizes for the development of an open source, API-based system to replace various components of the current scheduling software used in the agency’s VistA electronic health system. Each prize award may be awarded as much as $3 million.

“This contest marks a major change in direction by VA, away from software that is so customized that only VA can use it, toward open standards and commercial systems that build on proven practices,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The competition will help us serve Veterans by encouraging ideas to provide more personalized care.”

The contest was posted in the Federal Register in October with a registration deadline of May 13, 2013.  All entries will be finalized a month later on June 13, 2013.

The content is driven by VA’s decision to transition its VistA EHR system to an open architecture product. According to the press release issued the contest challenges developers to “offer standards-based, modular components that can be extended and modified much more easily than customized products.” Both proprietary and commercial systems are eligible for the prize money but all entries must include APIs.

The VA  will announce this contest winners by September  30, 2013. Learn more about this contest here.