VistA e-prescribing module is now open source

Oroville Hospital in California has made the e-prescribing module it created for the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) open source, making it available for free to any private organization that uses VistA.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs developed the open source electronic health record system VistA, but had no need to connect to private pharmacies, according to an announcement. That led Oroville to develop the module called eRx VistA, which went live in September 2010. According to Oroville, eRx VistA can be used as a stand-alone module or as part of a VistA distribution.

The module, however, requires a subscription to e-prescribe solution provider NewCrop that integrates with Surescripts, First Drug Databank, RxHub and other medical data services. eRx VistA adds the e-prescribing option to VistA's Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS). When an order is placed, the software begins a series of checks, including drug-to-drug, drug-to-allergy, and appropriate dosage, according to the announcement. Physicians then can select the pharmacy where the prescription should be sent using the Surescripts network. All  information during the session is pulled back into the VistA EHR.

Oroville's decision to go with the open source EHR system was the focus of a Forbes  article from August.

With electronic prescribing part of the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements, the VA could use the model to make the VistA system compliant. In June, the VA and the Department of Defense issued a request for information on adding a pharmacy component to the joint EHR system they're building.

Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized payment rules affecting e-prescribing that go into effect Jan. 1.

A late November report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT found big gains in e-prescribing in all states, with nearly half of U.S. physicians ordering prescriptions using the Surescripts network. While just 7 percent of U.S. physicians used e-prescribing as of December 2008, 48 percent were doing so by June 2012.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- check out the Forbes article