Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Public Law No: 114-286 (12/16/2016)

(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the House on December 6, 2016. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016

(Sec. 2) This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to begin an 18-month pilot program in at least three Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) under which veterans use an Internet website or mobile application to schedule and confirm appointments at VA medical facilities.The program's duration may be extended and the number of VISNs may be increased if the VA determines that the program is reducing the wait times of veterans seeking medical care and ensuring that more available appointment times are filled.

The VA shall seek to enter into a contract using competitive procedures with one or more contractors to provide the scheduling capability. The VA's request for proposals shall be open to any contractor that has an existing commercially available, off-the-shelf online patient self-scheduling system that includes the capabilities to:

  • schedule, modify, and cancel appointments for primary care, specialty care, and mental health;
  • support appointments for the provision of health care regardless of whether such care is provided in person or through telehealth services;
  • view appointment availability in real time;
  • make available, in real time, appointments that were previously filled but later cancelled by other patients;
  • provide prompts or reminders to veterans to schedule follow-up appointments;
  • be used 24 hours per day, 7 days per week; and
  • integrate with the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture of the VA.

The VA shall seek to enter into an agreement with an appropriate non-governmental, not-for-profit entity with expertise in health information technology to independently validate and verify that the system used in the program and any other patient self-scheduling appointment system developed or used by the VA includes such capabilities. The bill sets deadlines for the validation and verification of such systems. The Government Accountability Office shall evaluate and report to specified congressional committees on each validation and verification conducted. By December 31, 2017, the VA shall certify to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs that such systems include such capabilities.

If the VA develops or begins using a new patient self-scheduling appointment system that is not covered by such certification, it shall: (1) certify that such new system includes such capabilities by 30 days after it makes the determination to replace the previous system, or (2) replace any such system developed that is in use with a commercially available, off-the-shelf online patient self-scheduling system that includes the specified capabilities.