VA launches its open source EHR custodian

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), on a joint path with the Department of Defense, has gone live with its open source electronic health record agent (OSEHRA) to create a single EHR for veterans and service members.      

The VA, providing its VistA EHR system to seed OSEHRA, intends to create an open modular non-proprietary standard for EHR systems, and for participants to collaborate and integrate EHR modules. OSEHRA will serve as a central repository for the new open source community. 

"We developed our open source strategy to engage the public and private sectors in the rapid advancement of our EHR software, which is central to the care we deliver to Veterans and service members and to our joint EHR collaboration with the Department of Defense," VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement. "With the launch of OSEHRA, we begin the implementation of our strategy and we look forward to the creation of a vibrant open source EHR community."

This program may be an important step in EHR development. Proprietary systems that don't share systems with each other miss opportunities to improve their functionality. They also don't make much progress in interoperability, a priority if the industry is going to ever operate a national health information network. 

Both individuals and organizations are invited to participate and join OSEHRA. 

To learn more:
- read the VA's press release (.pdf)
- here's OSEHRA's website 
- check out this article from Government Health IT