An open source approach to Veterans Affairs medical info

An open source approach to Veterans Affairs medical info

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For years, the VA has run the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), which is their Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. Turns out it was written by clinicians themselves, and has served well over years. However, the VA believes it might be time to use open source methods in a kind of public/private partnership. This is a really big deal, novel in government, which might also improve the health record systems we all use. This could become the basis of a jointly developed health records platform.

Here's the gist:

VistA’s capabilities evolved endogenously over the many years it has been in successful production, and are the result of the contributions of many innovations, including those that came from within VA itself. However, today’s health care environment – in which new models of care are continuously developed and deployed – is utterly dependent upon the accelerating technological development of new medical devices, improved IT infrastructure, services, and wireless communications. In order to sensibly benefit from these advances, VA must address fundamental structural constraints that will inhibit its ability to keep pace with health services delivery. Specifically, VA believes that a structured, deliberate, and predictable migration from our custom and proprietary EHR software to an openly architected, modular, and standards-based platform will achieve five crucial objectives:

  1. It will unleash EHR innovation inside and outside VA.
  2. It will release VA’s captive dependency on any particular component or service and give our clinicians access to the best available tools andsolutions.
  3. It will reduce the costs and risks of reliable implementation (andintegration) of new functional modules that improve VistA’s capabilities.
  4. It will measurably improve health outcomes for our nation’s Veterans.
  5. It will enable other providers in the public and private health caresystem to benefit from, contribute to, and interoperate with this national asset.
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