Interoperability the driver of next generation of VistA

The Department of Veterans Affairs has earned worldwide accolades for its VistA EMR system that holds the records of millions of veterans at hundreds of facilities, but the reality is, the architecture is clunky and difficult to manage because the software is stored locally on thousands of computers. Enter Aviva, the working name for a web-enabled modernization intended to make the VA's EMR more suitable for data exchange on the Nationwide Health Information Network.

Though VistA likely will remain a major part of Aviva, the new system will be modular, built by multiple development teams, so upgrades and fixes are easier and, most importantly, the data are interoperable with external EMRs. It also will be scalable so the software, which, like VistA, is likely to be open-source, is more compatible with smaller organizations.

"Effectively what we are trying to do is replace a tin can on a string with a cell phone system," VA CTO Peter Levin told a workgroup of the federal Health IT Standards Committee, reports Government Health IT. "Being current is what is eluding us right now to be able to fix bugs quickly, to be able to accelerate our release cycle and be able to plug into other components," Levin explained.

For more details on the Aviva project:
- have a look at this Government Health IT story