VA looks to RPA to speed up digitization of its health records
Written by Billy Mitchell
The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating the use of robotic process automation (RPA) to more quickly digitize external medical documents and link them to a veteran’s existing electronic health record.
The VA made a request for information on Wednesday looking for a managed RPA tool to “streamline the flow of external clinical records” into its EHR systems – both the existing Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) and the upcoming Cerner Millenium. Based on a modernized platform, the introduction is planned for the near future.
This is especially important since the VA has allowed veterans to seek care outside of their facilities under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act since 2014. In this case, these facilities keep records outside of the VA and often send them as hard copies to the VA for digital integration into a veteran’s electronic health record.
Such a tool would “help clear backlog, reduce the number of manual scan / indexing tasks, and improve quality and quantitative traceability with both VA’s existing VistA and latest Cerner Millennium platforms,” it said in the RFI. The VA inspector general reported last year that the department’s backlog of health records awaiting digitization was “approximately 5.15 miles high and contained at least 597,000 individual electronic document files from October 2016.”
As veteran care in the community continues to grow under the MISSION Act of 2018, “the automation solution must be scalable to accommodate new and increased workloads, throughput and digital exchange capacities,” the RFI says.
The VA included some must-haves for a possible solution: automated scanning to link documents to a veteran’s EHR, a labeling system that warns of problems with automated processing, and the provision of metrics. The tool should also be able to access medical documentation from a variety of sources including an internal VA shared folder, email, electronic fax, paper, electronic exchange, and via an API in the HealthShare Referral Management- Platform.
Currently, VA medical facilities continue to use VistA as their primary EHR system. Soon the VA will roll out the modernized Cerner platform in hospitals starting in the Pacific Northwest. The department had scheduled the launch in March before the commissioning was postponed until July as more training was required. But since the coronavirus hit, the VA has paused the launch indefinitely to prioritize resources for responding to pandemics.
The modernized EHR will cost the VA more than $ 16 billion and it will take a decade to roll out
The VA asks interested providers to offer RPA solutions by July 30th.