VA secures, speeds access

Through a pair of contracts, the department targets wireless devices, patient medical data

The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded two new contracts to information technology companies for faster and more secure ways to treat patients at VA hospitals across the country.

The first award was a $3.4 million contract to upgrade the security of wireless devices used at its hospitals to help administer the right medication to patients.

PlanetGov Inc. was selected to secure the VA's BarCode Medication Administration wireless networks. The contract was awarded under the VA's Procurement of Computer Hardware and Software (PCHS-2) contract.

In another contract awarded under PCHS-2, Sentillion Inc., a provider of authentication and privacy management solutions, received an order worth more than $10 million to provide easier and safer access to patient data stored at VA's medical centers.

Its product — Vergence Context Management solution, allows doctors and other health care providers to search for a patient's medical records located in different departments in one step instead of multiple searches. Under the old system, doctors could miss a record if they didn't perform a complete search.

"With our system, productivity and patient safety are No. 1," said Bill McKeon, Sentillion's vice president of marketing.

Under the wireless contract, PlanetGov and its subcontractor, Federated IT, will supply and install AirFortress secure wireless for voice, video and data products from Fortress Technologies Inc. and train personnel at more than 167 VA medical centers.

This technology already has been developed and deployed by the Army on the battlefield, according to Kyle von Bucholz, director of federal accounts for Fortress.

Each hospital within the VA system will have 120 points of access to the wireless network. Nurses using handheld devices will scan a patient's medical records and medication order from an ID bracelet on the patient's wrist.

The information will be sent over a wireless system to the hospital's central database, which will provide the right prescription information to the nurse via the wireless network.

Until now, the system had not been completely secured, according to David Hill, PlanetGov's account manager for the VA, and that prevented the VA from moving many of its hospitals into the high-tech era.

Some hospitals already had moved ahead and provided their own secure environment, but under new orders from the VA, every hospital will be using the same security system as well as other IT to integrate and contribute to the "one VA" concept.

"This is going to be a secure solution for all the data being transmitted," von Bucholz said.

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