VA announces VistA scheduling software contest, with potential $9M award

January 10, 2013 in Medical Technology

Everyone likes a good competition, particularly with a potential $9 million gold carrot available to the victors. On Wednesday, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a challenge for software developers to create a new medical scheduling system for the VA’s nationwide health system. 

Three winners could be awarded up to $3 million each for creating an open-source and open application program interface (API)-based system to replace components of VA’s 25-year-old scheduling software in its VistA electronic health record system. 


[See also: DoD, VA to expedite iEHR rollout.]


“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 VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in a department press release. “The competition will help us serve veterans by encouraging ideas to provide more personalized care.”


Officials say the contest is driven by VA’s decision to transition its VistA EHR system into an openly-architected product and to challenge developers to offer standards-based, modular components that can be extended and modified much more easily than customized products.  Proprietary, commercial systems are eligible for prizes, but all entries in the contest will be required to have open connections, or APIs.  


“For the last 18 months, we have been working with the open source community to support this change in direction. Today we announce yet another project supported by that community,” said Roger Baker, VA assistant secretary for information technology. 


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