IBM to develop automated online claims processing for VA

Initial configuration will deal with Agent Orange applicants

IBM Corp. is on a fast track to help automate part of the Veterans Affairs Department's disability claims system to deal with an anticipated influx of Agent Orange claims later this year.

IBM was awarded a $9.1 contract to collaborate with VA developers to develop and implement the new claims processing system by November, according to a July 2 news release from the VA. The goal is to permit more accurate and faster claims processing due to the anticipated surge in disability claims beginning in late 2010.

The expected sharp increase in disability claims coincides with a new regulation that goes into effect implementing a presumption of service connection for three disabilities: B-cell leukemia (hairy-cell leukemia) associated with Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, Parkinson’s disease, and ischemic heart disease.

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VA seeks vendor to automate Agent Orange claims processing

The first use of the new claims processing system will be limited to this set of disabilities, but over time, it will cover other conditions, the VA news release said.

The system being developed by IBM is expected to be more than a digitization of paper processes. Instead, it will implement a new end-to-end processing workflow.

“Automation will substantially reduce processing time and increase accuracy while simplifying the way that veterans interact with the claims process,” the news release said.

The new system will guide applicants through automated, program-assisted menus to capture their information and medical evidence. VA estimates the new system, in its initial configuration, may assist as many as 100,000 veterans.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., ranks No. 17 on Washington Technology's 2010 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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