VA Seeks Feedback on Robotic Process Automation for Paper Records

The government agency is requesting information from vendors who can streamline and digitize paper records using a robotic process automation tool to integrate into its EHR system.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has requested feedback regarding the use of a robotic process automation (RPA) tool to quickly transform and digitize all health records in lieu of its Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program launch.

With the RPA tool, the VA’s goal is to streamline and digitize the retrieval of external clinical document sets to integrate into its current VistA EHR system and eventually the Cerner Millennium EHR platform. VA said this automated process aims to eradicate backlog, decrease administrative burden and the number of manual tasks, and increase quality and traceability using both EHR platforms.

“VA is seeking information in regard to the best solution; therefore, request the vendor propose solutions that they feel best fit; either a full, partial or no managed solution,” VA said.

“If vendor is considering a fully managed solution, they will be responsible for providing VA a solution consisting of a suite of tools including software licensing and maintenance of the suite including all software updates, original equipment manufacturer (or authorized resellers) provided professional services, and potential items for consideration for scalability throughout VA.”

VA said the automated solution should be scalable to satisfy new and increased workloads and digital exchange capacities, specifically to meet demands generated from the 2018 MISSION Act. The MISSION Act created a new model of community care and third-party care access, allowing veterans to bring their EHRs to outside Veterans Health Administration providers, VA outlined three goals for the RPA tool:

  • Automating the scanning process
  • Identifying erroneous documents and flagging them for human intervention
  • Providing feedback to fix problems for future planning

In detail, VA officials noted the automated scanning tool should possess the capabilities to have an interoperable interface, allow erroneous documents as previously written, identify duplicate documents, accurately index the documents within the EHR, and close out the document once indexed.

Because VA clinicians are able to exchange documents from external sources in a variety of ways, the agency asks if the RPA tool can access documents through a shared folder at the VA, through email, via paper document, through HealthShare Referral Management, by way of electronic exchange, and through an electronic fax system.

The agency wants the automation tool to validate and enhance the quality of the medical document when integrating it into the EHR. This will include identifying upside-down pages, poor penmanship, double-sided pages, and avoiding duplicates, for example.

“This Request for Information (RFI) is issued for the purpose of conducting market research,” concluded VA. “Accordingly, this RFI constitutes neither a Request for Proposal (RFP) nor a guarantee that one will be issued by the Government in the future.  Furthermore, it does not commit the Government to contract for any services described herein.”

VA asks vendors to provide a response to the information by 12:00PM EST on July 30, 2020.

While VA is utilizing its current EHR system, the agency’s massive EHRM project is currently in its third implementation stoppage since November 2019, this time due to the coronavirus.

In the meantime, the agency is working to enhance interoperability for veterans by launching the Veterans Data Integration and Federation Enterprise Platform (VDIF EP).

This platform, powered by Intersystems HealthShare, aims to create a longitudinal patient record by making veteran patient data interoperable across VA and external EHR systems, which has been a long-term goal of the agency.

VDIF is currently connected to 130 separate EHR systems that support 172 VA medical centers and over 1,000 outpatient clinics.

With this platform in place, providers can now access a veteran’s full medical history on a single interface, rather than retrieving the patient’s medical history on external websites. This streamlined process enhances patient care and lessens clinician burden.

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