Custodial agent for updating VA's VistA to launch in August

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has selected The Informatics Applications Group to design and establish the custodial agent that will act as the open-source community's central governing body updating the use of VistA (Veterans Integrated System Technology Architecture), the VA's electronic health record (EHR). The VA said it expects the custodial agent to launch in August and begin full operation in the fall.

The VA announced in April that it wanted a custodial agent to provide communication, organizational and administrative functions to help the open source community share information and software. Moving to an open source model will promote innovative ideas from the public and private sectors, according to the VA's Secretary, Eric K. Shinseki.

In addition, a major opportunity exists "to create the next generation of EHRs, which is so important to our EHR collaboration with [the Department of Defense] and to many current and future users of electronic health records," VA Chief Technology Officer Peter Levin said in a statement.

To achieve a higher level of utility and safety, Levin said it was important to engage a broader base of EHR users and developers and obtain a higher level of community engagement.

VA needs to accelerate the modernization of VistA, developed initially in the 1970s--even as it cooperates with the Department of Defense on a common EHR, reports Government Health IT. In the past, VistA's legacy technical architecture had been making maintenance and upgrades difficult and expensive, it said.

For more information:-see the Department of Veterans Affairs announcement

-view the Government Health IT article