VA suspends telehealth projects pending review

By Brian Dolan
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Veterans AffairsThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced last week plans to temporarily halt 45 IT projects that are either behind schedule or over budget to assess whether the VA should continue pursuing them. The VA determined using its Program Management Accountability System (PMAS) that the projects had missed some of their customer delivery dates and therefore probably had issues that needed to be resolved before moving ahead. Under PMAS, a third missed customer delivery milestone is cause for the project to be halted and re-planned, the VA explained in a press release.

A few of the 45 VA IT projects that have been temporarily halted include: Home Telehealth (HT) Infrastructure Enhancements, Health Data Repository (HDR) II, and Home Telehealth (HT) Development.

While the news may be discouraging for some in the telehealth movement, others believe that the VA's work to date has already served as a beacon for those looking to offer wireless remote monitoring services.

At a recent wireless health conference, Continua Health Alliance's Executive Director Chuck Parker said that remote patient monitoring doesn't need to do anymore trials or pilots. The Veterans Health Administration (VA) has done remote patient monitoring pilots with about 30,000 patients over the past four years, Parker told attendees at last month's Healthcare Unbound conference. That's enough pilots, Parker said, we don't need to do any more pilots for remote patient monitoring; we need to move to deployments, and look to the VA for their pilots' findings.

Earlier this year the VA announced findings from a recent pilot it conducted that found veterans' could better manage their health and avoid hospitalization by using telehealth technology that the VA provided them with for use at home.

For more on the VA's temporary IT project suspensions, read the press release below, which includes a list of all suspended 45 projects.

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WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it will temporarily halt 45 information technology projects which are either behind schedule or over budget. These projects will be reviewed, and it will be determined whether these projects should be continued.

"Leveraging the power of Information Technology to accelerate and modernize the delivery of benefits and services to our nations Veterans is essential to transforming VA to a 21st century organization that is people-centric, results-driven and forward thinking," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said.

Secretary Shinseki ordered a review of the department's 300 IT projects and implementation of the PMAS, designed to increase the department's accountability for IT projects.

Each of the 45 projects will be temporarily halted. No further development will occur and expenditures will be minimized. A new project plan that meets the requirements of Program Management Accountability System (PMAS) must be created by the project manager and approved by VA's Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology before resuming.

"VA has a responsibility to the American people, who are investing millions of dollars in technology projects, to deliver quality results that adhere to a budget and are delivered on time." Shinseki said. "They need to have confidence that the dollars they are spending are being effectively used to improve the lives of our Veterans."

PMAS is a management protocol that requires projects to establish milestones to deliver new functionality to its customers. Failure to meet set deadlines indicates a problem within the project. Under PMAS, a third missed customer delivery milestone is cause for the project to be halted and re-planned.

"Our goal is to increase our success rate for our systems development projects," Roger W. Baker, VA's Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, said. "We will use every tool at our disposal to bring about greater accountability and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. PMAS and the IT Dashboard will be critical indicators of whether our IT projects are on schedule and on budget, and if they are not, we will take swift action to cut down on waste and redundancy."

PMAS, in conjunction with the analytical tools available through the IT Dashboard, will ensure early identification and correction of problematic IT projects. The IT Dashboard, launched last month, is a one-stop clearinghouse of information, allowing the American people to track federal information technology initiatives and hold the government accountable for progress and results.

Over the next year, all IT projects at VA will be required to move to PMAS.

The Obama Administration has made management reform a key government-wide priority. From IT accountability to personnel and contracting reforms, the administration is committed to providing better value, efficiency, and effectiveness for taxpayers' dollars.

Below is a complete list of all projects temporarily halted under PMAS at this time:

Scheduling Replacement

Laboratory System Reeingeering Project (LSRP)

Pharmacy Re-Engineering Pre .5

Health Data Repository (HDR) II

Pharmacy Re-Engineering Pre1.0

HeVet Middleware Services

Person Service Identity Management

Administrative Data Repository (ADR)

Document & Ancillary Imaging

Clinical Data Service

VA Learning Management

Home Telehealth (HT) Development

Occupational Health Record Keeping System (OHRS)

Enrollment System Redesign (ESR) v4

CHDR - Chemistry & Hematology: ADC Automation

Clinical Flow Sheet - CLIO

E-Gov: E-Training

Barcode Expansion

Delivery Service

Organization Service

Enrollment System Redesign (ESR) v3.1

Health Data Repository (HDR) Data Warehouse

Home Telehealth (HT) Infrastructure Enhancements

Radiology Outside Reporting

BCMA Inpatient Medication Request for SFG IRA

Blood Bank - VBECS v1.0

Prosthetics Enhancements

VIC (Veterans Identification Card) Development

Spinal Cord Injury & Disorders Outcomes v3.0

Radiology HL7 Interface Update

Ward Drug Dispensing Equipment (WDDE) Interface

Lab Data Sharing & Interoperability (LDSI) - Anatomic Pathology/Microbiology

HBPC Medical Foster Home (MFH)

eClaims Plus

ASISTS Modification - Case Management

National Teleradiology Program

CAPRI Enhancements

Master Patient Index

RMS - Rights Management Server

National Teleradiology Program

Problem List Standardization

Radiology Standardization

LDSI Terminology Support

Clinical/Health Data Repositories (CHDR) Phase II

Fee Data and HERO