DoD, VA will use service-oriented architecture in joint EHR

The ever-evolving, contentious effort to merge the electronic health records of the Department of Defense and the Veterans Affairs Department just took another step forward.

Mark Goodge, chief technology officer of the Military Health System, announced that the integrated electronic health record (iEHR) will use common services applications rather than a single proprietary system, according to Government Health IT.

The iEHR will use standards, applications, databases and middleware based on common services and a web-based interface. The common services will be able to operate with the current AHLTA (DoD) and VistA (VA) EHRs, as well as components of the iEHR when they're available.

The Military Health System is adopting a service-oriented architecture as it moves away from a legacy EHR that is walled off from non-military applications, Goodge said. But it is not clear how committed the DoD is to using an open-source community to write the applications that will comprise the iEHR.

VA recently announced that the open-source community, governed by an Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA), is open for business, and it has contributed the VistA source code. So far, though, DoD has not announced what it plans to contribute to the community.

One key to open source development may be the "common services broker" that the two departments will utilize to connect internal and external applications and services. Peter Levin, chief technology officer of the VA, noted that any service can be plugged into the broker, which is an enterprise service bus with associated standards. So over time, applications designed in the private sector may replace many of the current components of the VA and DoD systems. 

To learn more:
- read the Government Health IT story
- see an InformationWeek article about the open-source community 

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