VA’s $500 million technology project faced ‘catastrophic failure’

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Marty Martinez, Facilities Engineering Operations Manager for St. David's Medical Center, shows various electronic tracking devices used to monitor mobile medical equipment throughout the hospital. It serves as a security and preventive maintenance measure when dealing with valuable assets. Likewise a half billion dollar contract to help the VA track its medical equipment through GPS tagging is in danger of failure, with an inefficient wifi network.

A costly VA program to track medical equipment and prevent patient infections has been delayed a year because of troubled implementation, the Austin American-Statesman reveals in a new investigation.

The Statesman reported that the $543 million project to digitally track medical equipment faced “catastrophic failure” for a host of problems implementing it.

Known as RTLS, or real-time locating system, the project is intended to keep track of devices that can impact patient safety, such as catheters.

An electronic tracking device used to monitor mobile medical equipment. A $543 million contract to help the VA track its medical equipment through GPS tagging is in danger of failure.

The VA contracted with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services for the system in 2012 after colonoscopies performed with dirty equipment led to hepatitis and HIV infections at VA facilities in Georgia and Florida.

But the Statesman found that implementation of the system has been plagued by technical difficulties and will miss its June 2017 activation by a year.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., called the Statesman’s findings “very concerning” and said they “fit a 20-year pattern of VA struggling to manage its supply chain.”

Read the full investigation here.


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