Issues with VA Vista EMR

Posted on November 10, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

So many people have propped up the VA’s EMR system (Vista) as the model for how EMR should be done.  This story about the GAO finding the EMR implementation over budget is really interesting.  Here’s just one short section about the budget that they have for the VA EMR:

VA officials cited resource availability and interdependencies among projects as key drivers of cost and schedule variances. The GAO has estimated that the program will overrun its current budget – worth approximately $1.897 billion – by $350.2 million.

WOW! That’s a lot of money. I would hope that if you’re spending close to $2 billion you’d have something good to show for it. Too bad it’s just not reasonable for most doctors offices to spend that kind of money.

Here’s another interesting quote from the article (emphasis added):

VistA-FM is designed to provide a framework as well as additional standardization and common services components. It’s also intended to eliminate redundancies in coding and support interoperability among applications. However, VA officials have told the GAO that VistA-FM is costly and difficult to maintain and doesn’t integrate well with newer software packages.

I’m sure the MUMPS fans will come out of the wood work and tell us how great it is. I’m sure it does some things very well. However, I agree with the quote from this article is that it doesn’t integrate well with newer software packages. This is a major problem if we’re talking about inter operable EMR software.

Vista is free for doctors offices. I think it’s the “difficult to maintain” issue that kills most people even with the free price tag. Of course, my focus is on ambulatory EMR. The hospital environment is a mess regardless of which EMR you choose.