House officials say VistA needs review by government watchdog

Two top House officials want a government watchdog to review the Department of Veterans Affairs' electronic health record system.

In a letter sent last week to the Government Accountability Office, House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee members Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) said despite the VA's efforts to improve and modernize its VistA system, it has not "produced the kinds of modern systems and capabilities that Congress mandated."

Moreover, they write, "VA has recently indicated that it may be pursuing yet another modernization initiative."

Last fall, VA Chief Information Officer LaVerne Council discussed the possibility of replacing VistA with a commercial, off-the-shelf product. In April she said the VA this summer will go into more detail on its future plans, adding that the potential new system is "incredibly responsive," agile and leverages Health Level Seven International's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard.

The House subcommittee members, in their letter, request more information on the efforts, as well as that the GAO conduct a study on the project.

The study, they write, should look at the history of the VA's efforts on the project and the costs and results of such efforts, as well as determinations for future plans on the system and future estimated costs.

The VA's system is not the only government agency EHR currently under the gun. The Defense Department's Office of Inspector General this week in an audit summary said the department's schedule for implementing its new system might be too aggressive.

To learn more:
- here's the letter (.pdf)