VA begins route to create an open-source EHR

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken the next step with its VistA (Veterans Integrated System Technology Architecture) electronic health record (EHR) system by drafting a request for proposal (RFP) for a "custodial agent" to develop an open source community.

When the award is made under the RFP, the VA said it will commit to use the open source version of VistA at all of its 153 major VA hospitals and more than 800 community based outpatient clinics across the U.S. VistA also forms the basis of the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS), the EHR system used by the Indian Health System, as well as the basis of EHR installations in more than 50 hospitals internationally.

"This move towards open source welcomes private sector partners to work with us to improve VistA, and is an important part of our strategy to ensure that VA clinicians have the best tools possible, and that veterans receive the best healthcare possible," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki in a statement.

VA expects to begin conversion to an open source version of VistA by this summer. A key step in this process will be the selection of a custodial agent to perform all aspects of operating the open source ecosystem and guiding the relationships among developers, users, vendors and service providers.

A primary goal behind the open source announcement is "to reignite the innovative processes that made VistA such a great EHR system," said Roger Baker, VA assistant secretary for information and technology. "We also want to ensure that vendors of proprietary products can easily and confidently integrate their products with VistA to make them available for VA to purchase and use in our facilities."

For more information:
- see the VA release
- view the InformationWeek article

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