A midyear report published by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Information and Technology touts the agency’s looming transition from its VistA electronic health record to a more modern and comprehensive system, although details remain scant.

The report notes that the agency, via its Joint Legacy Viewer (JLV), has met “initial interoperability requirements” as stated in the Fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act; the legislation calls for an “integrated display of data” between the systems of the VA and the Department of Defense. The JLV, however, has been criticized by lawmakers such as Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who last fall compared the tool to microfiche for not being interactive, according to Health Data Management.

Still, VA CIO LaVerne Council has said JLV represents the start, not the end, of interoperability efforts.

The report also points out that, while VistA version 4, expected to be ready by 2018, will “deliver even more functionality” for users, its Digital Health Platform represents “the future” of care efforts.

“In an age where people track their health on a smartwatch and where scheduling appointments is as simple as saying, ‘Hey Siri,’ we are looking beyond what VistA 4 will deliver in 2018 to a new Digital Health Platform that can better support veterans throughout the health continuum,” the report says.

The VA will leverage the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) framework to integrate VistA into a cloud-based platform, according to the report, an undertaking to which Council has previously alluded.

Council and VA Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin have also said the agency, more than likely, will turn to a commercial product as it looks to evolve. The report, however, is vague about such efforts, only saying that the VA’s new “Strategic Sourcing” function enables it to look to the marketplace for top tier solutions rather than “building new, expensive customized solutions from scratch.”

To learn more:
- here’s the report