VA ‘inviting innovation’ by making EHR open source

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As part of an ongoing project to modernize its medical informatics system, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) claims it is inviting innovation from the private sector by utilizing an open source code base for the project.

The project is a collaboration between the VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide active servicemen and women and veterans with a single electronic health record (EHR) system. The Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA) became operational recently, and will function as the single governing authority for the centralized clinical informatics network.

“As VA moves VistA forward to become the joint EHR system, we’re going to do that through the open source. So, in effect, the [medical informatics system], when we get done, will be in the open source,” said Roger Baker, chief information officer for the VA, as quoted by Healthcare IT News. “As you see us move forward on open source and focus on what we want to do with the iEHR, it’s not just a common system between DoD and VA but something based on national standards that every EHR technology vendor can rely on.”

The VA’s existing clinical informatics network, known as Veterans Integrated System Technology Architecture (VistA) forms the basis of the new system. As vendors and software developers enhance and optimize the code base of the system, OSEHRA will serve as a regulatory body to oversee such developments. OSEHRA is currently drafting a framework for developers and medical informatics vendors that wish to become part of the project.

According to the news outlet, The Informatics Applications Group will handle the operation of the open source community aspects of VistA’s continued development, following the awarding of more than $5 million in project funding by the VA in June.