VA wants to take SOA approach to CDS

Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are seeking to adopt a service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach to clinical decision support (CDS) in its integrated electronic health record (iEHR), reports Healthcare IT News.

The VA is currently working with the Interior Department’s National Business Center to develop a standardized format for the integration of CDS modules in its iEHR project. At present, CDS tools are limited to vendor-specific medical informatics solutions. The National Business Center is accepting proposals from industry leaders until July 9 and expects to issue a year-long contract to develop the standards in September.

In addition to freeing the VA from the potentially restrictive features of using one medical informatics solution over another, some experts speculate that the development of a standardized series of CDS tools based on SOA technology could become a benchmark for the wider healthcare IT sector.

Should a standardized format for CDS functionality be developed by a third party, the resulting infrastructure would be highly customizable, ideal for the specific needs of large-scale healthcare IT projects such as the VA’s iEHR.

The iEHR currently being developed by the VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in the country. According to Fierce Health IT, two medical facilities in San Antonio, Texas, and Hampton Roads, Virginia, will launch a preliminary version of the iEHR in 2014.

Officials at the VA estimate the total cost of the project will be $4 billion, divided roughly between the VA and the DoD.

While the initial rollout will be restricted to certain sites, no single medical facility implementing the advanced medical informatics system will utilize all of the system’s functionality initially. Officials hope the modular architecture of the iEHR will enable facilities to select modules that suit the needs and clinical objectives of specific care environments.

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