VA to Automate Veterans’ Health Records Digitization (Corrected)

(Corrects RFI response date in third paragraph.)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking input from industry on automated tools and technologies to speed up the intake of veterans’ medical records as part of its multibillion-dollar healthcare modernization push.

The department is examining opportunities to use robotic process automation (RPA) in its effort to transition to a modern electronic health record (EHR) system, according to a request for information released on July 8.

VA officials are directing interested parties to respond to the RFI by July 30 with answers to questions about their capabilities, system requirements, availability as a software-as-a-service, and pricing.

Photo: Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie (right) tours a VA medical facility.

Automation will enable VA staff to cut down on the amount of manual work involved in digitizing documents onto a commercial platform built by Cerner Corp., which involves the laborious process of scanning and indexing medical documents for millions of veterans. VA staff have to put documents in the right order, ensure they’re not upside down, and remove duplicates. Officials believe RPA could be effective in helping them pare down the current backlog of unprocessed files, according to the RFI.

The VA is considering a managed services approach, which would involve a contractor supplying an RPA tool, as well as staff to provide training and maintenance. The solution must be compatible with Cerner’s EHR platform and capable of scaling to meet the department’s demand.

The draft fiscal 2021 Military Construction-VA spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on July 9 would provide $2.6 billion for the VA’s EHR program. The amount matches the VA’s fiscal 2021 budget request and would be $1.1 billion more than the program received in fiscal 2020. EHR Modernization, the department’s signature initiative, is slated to cost $16 billion over 10 years.

To contact the analyst: Chris Cornillie in Washington at ccornillie@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible: Daniel Snyder at dsnyder@bgov.com

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