Tuesday, March 1, 2011

VA's Plans for IT Solutions

The VA’s FY 2012 Budget request for the Office of Information and Technology (OI&T) is $3.1 billion. This figure includes funding to support information and technology at $457 million, maintaining the systems at $1.4 billion, to bring new products on line at $198 million, and for staffing and administration at $915 million. The VA’s IT infrastructure serves nearly 290,000 employees, 100,000 trainees, and over 23.4 million veterans and families.

The VA’s IT budget for OI&T’s development activities will be carried out within a framework provided by 16 Major Transformational Initiatives. The 16 Transformational Initiatives included in the FY 2012 OI&T budget request are:

• Eliminate veteran homelessness
• Veterans benefits management system
• Automate GI Bill benefits
• Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record
• Improve veterans mental health
• Build veterans relationship management to enable convenient, seamless interactions
• New models of health care
• Enhance the veteran’s access to healthcare
• Ensure preparedness to meet emergent national needs
• Enable systems to drive performance and outcomes
• Establish strong VA management infrastructure and integrated operating model
• Transform human capital management via HCIP
• Perform R&D to enhance long term health and well being
• Optimize the utilization of the VA’s Capital Portfolio
• Improve healthcare efficiency and create organizational value
• Transform healthcare delivery through health informatics

The VA will continue to focus on the underserved population in the veteran community. Alternatives will be created to meet this population’s access to care that includes using telemedicine to provide in home care and to provide other delivery innovations.

The VA’s Blue Button enables veterans to access their personal information and to download personal health information entered into MyHealtheVet which is a portal into VistA. As of 2011, medications received from the VA, wellness reminders, and appointment information is included in the system.

The Industry Innovation Competition (VAi2) launched in 2010 to find innovative technologies to help address veteran homelessness, develop telehealth innovations, new models for dialysis and renal disease prevention, improvements for polytrauma care, and find new ways to reduce adverse drug events.

The VAi2 also sponsored and helped manage the creation of an online disability claims submission tool that went live in 2010 for veterans called “Fast Track” which is now able to process 100,000 new disability claims.

The VAi2 Competition is working with the VA leadership to develop new focus areas for 2011 and expect to invest in some or all of the following:

• New projects to cut the backlog
• Improved diagnosis of complex conditions like PTSD and TBI
• Enhanced telehealth scheduling services
• Automated sterilization of medical devices at facilities
• Cutting edge prosthesis solutions
• New telehealth technologies
• Advancing the use for VA’s “Blue Button” personal electronic health record

Another recent innovation is the “Virtual Implementation of VistA” (AViVA) to create a universal user interface for the electronic health record along with prototype data connectors to link the AViVA platform to patient data from any source. This will make it easier for third party providers to build applications and for healthcare providers to collaborate. The AVIVA Software Development kit will be delivered in FY 2012.

Information technology for patient care is a priority with $430 million requested to fund several programs:

• Pharmacy Reengineering—to produce a seamless integrated system supported on a sound platform and capable of growth. The system to support the Health Data Repository structure will replace current pharmacy software modules with new technology.

• Laboratory System Reengineering—will replace the current VHA laboratory information system. The primary goal is to provide a reengineered Laboratory Information Management System to support pathology and laboratory medicine services. Planned deliverables for FY 2012 include contract awards for COTS software licenses and a systems environment solution required for national deployment

• Bar Code Expansion—to be used to positively identify patients to administer their blood products and to collect of all types of laboratory specimens at VA’s medical centers and clinics. FY 2011 will see an increase in positive identification at the point-of-care through better barcode scanning technology and be able to provide wireless medication administration, electronic record browsing, and vital sign monitoring on a PDA. FY 2012 will see barcode scanning technology used in the area of Clinical Lab Specimen Collection

The VA has just completed evaluating proposals for the “Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology” (T4) solicitation issued to transform their IT programs to meet long term technology needs. The T4 program will have up to 15 prime contracts and will serve as a single focal point for managing the multiple award contract vehicle. Competitors for the T4 contracts will soon be notified with the contracts expected to be awarded in the spring.

For more details on the FY 2012 budget request pertaining to medical programs and IT, go to www.va.gov/budget/products.asp then click on Volume II Medical Programs and Information Technology.