VA Asks DoD To Adopt Vista

Posted on April 2, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

For decades, the Department of Defense has struggled to build an EMR, but 20 years and $10 billion later, still hasn’t pulled together a satisfactory system. The DoD’s system, AHLTA, has seen project failure after project failure and still isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do efficiently. Now — at long last — DoD is looking at different options.

In theory, the DoD is still hacking away at the iEHR, a joint system with the VA, which is due for testing in 2014. iEHR is slated to include a mix of commercial and open source technologies. But the evidence suggests that iEHR is another failed project.

A few weeks ago, the VA submitted a formal proposal to the DoD suggesting that the Military Health system migrate away from AHLTA,working in collaboration with open source VistA community members such as the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA), WorldVista and several other companies involved in VistA development, OpenHealthNews notes.

The prospect of seeing VistA put in place has its advocates excited, to say the least. Seeing an opportunity, the open source community has launched a petition on the White House web site urging the DoD to adopt VistA, reports OpenHealthNews.

So, is moving to VistA a good idea? For those, including myself, who aren’t up to date on just how extensive VistA’s presence is, note that it already embraces (stats courtesy of OpenHealthNews):

• Over 6 million patients, with 75 million outpatient visits and 680,000 inpatient admissions
• More than 1,500 sites of care, including 152 hospitals, 965 outpatient clinics, 133 community living centers, and 293 Vet Centers
• 244,000 employees including more than 20,000 physicians and 53,000 nurses
• Affiliations with more than 1,200 educational institutions with more than 100,000 health care students receiving clinical training from VA each year

VistA is one of the few EMRs out there that has been proven successful over time, garners universal respect and has an enthusiastic user base. Oh, and of course, the price is right even after you add in integration and development costs.  I personally signed the White House petition — will you be doing so?

Also, for another look at the integration failures of the DoD and VA check out Jon Stewart’s rant.