Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 07, 2011

Healthcare Technology and News: VA's VistA Goes to Open Source Platform

To offer proper patient care and federal advantages to veterans and their dependents, the Department of Veterans Affairs has planned to move its ground-breaking VistA (Veterans Integrated System Technology Architecture) electronic health record (EHR) system to an open source platform.

For the last 30 years, VA has been using VistA and it presently supports 153 major VA hospitals and over 800 community based outpatient clinics.

According to a press release, VA’s decision to move to an open source platform is a game-changing approach to modernizing government legacy systems. The VA decision is the outcome of an open and collaborative process in which ACT-IAC was actively involved.

In September 2009, the VA’s Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology had asked ACT-IAC for its input from an industry-wide perspective on how to modernize a system that works well but is increasingly costly and difficult to maintain due to its reliance on outdated software. ACT-IAC assembled a working group comprised of experienced healthcare and IT professionals from 34 companies in the information technology industry. 

The ACT-IAC report recommended that VA should move to an open source, open standards model for the reengineering of the next generation of VistA. It is considered that this approach would create an environment within which VA employees, large prime contractors, healthcare professionals, innovative small companies, healthcare software vendors, and entrepreneurs can all contribute to improving “the best care anywhere” being provided by VA today.

The ACT-IAC report provided VA with a strategic pathway and actionable plan for modernizing VistA and it offered the industry recommendations to VA were unanimous.

Ed Meagher, a former senior government official who served as chair of the IAC VistA Modernization Working Group stated, “ACT-IAC is proud to have served as an objective, ethical and trusted advisor to the VA on the modernization of its VistA healthcare system. Our broadly based committee found open source to be the best environment for the modernization and future development of the next generation of VistA – and it is very gratifying to see that VA is taking ACT-IAC’s recommendations seriously by moving to an open source strategy. This project is an example of how ACT-IAC – and the unique collaborative forum that we offer – can contribute to better government.”

In other company news, HealthTechZone reported that some veterans in training for the Paralympics will be able to qualify for a monthly subsistence allowance from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), under a new program to help disabled Veterans take part in competitive sports.

Mandira Srivastava is a HealthTechZone contributor. She works as a full-time writer, ghostwriter and blogger, and has more than two years of experience in print and Web media. She has also worked on company brochures, website content and product descriptions, as well as proofreading and editing content. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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