Industry Recommends ‘Game-changing” Approach to VistA Modernization

IAC Task Force Unanimous in Recommending “Re-engineered” VistA System Provided in an Open Source Environment

FAIRFAX, Va.—May 6, 2010—The Industry Advisory Council (IAC) is today releasing a report it provided to the Department of Veterans Affairs with recommendations on how to modernize VistA (VA Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture). VistA is an integrated health information system that supports the 8 million veterans served by the VA’s 153 medical centers and 768 VA outpatient clinics. VistA is recognized as the premier electronic health information system in the nation.

Developed over the past 32 years, VistA is a legacy system that must be updated and modernized if it is to continue to meet the needs of America’s veterans. The Honorable Roger Baker, VA’s assistant secretary for information and technology, asked the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) for recommendations on how to modernize VistA. IAC assembled a working group comprised of experienced healthcare and IT professionals from 34 companies in the information technology industry. That group worked over the last six months to finalize a report which was sent to Mr. Baker on Tuesday, May 4, 2010.

The extensive 100-page report includes key recommendations:

  • VA should commit to and announce as a matter of strategic policy a plan to move to an open source, open standards model for the re-engineering of the next generation of VistA.
  • VA should contract with one or more Federally Funded Research and Development Corporations (FFRDCs) to:
    • Provide a detailed set of technical recommendations for the development of a VistA 2.0 Open Source Ecosystem;
    • Assemble a fully functioning application development environment for use in the VistA 2.0 Open Source Ecosystem;
    • Develop one or more demonstration applications using the Open Source Ecosystem and the application development environment; and
    • Provide an appropriate concept of operations that includes a business model, charter, bylaws, operating principles and organizational blueprint for an independent, not-for-profit open source foundation to manage, operate and maintain the VistA 2.0 Ecosystem.
  • The current VistA should be placed on an aggressive program of stabilization with limited tactical upgrades and enhancements driven by patient safety and other mandated requirements.
  • The objective is to provide an environment within which VA employees, large prime contractors, healthcare professionals, innovative small companies, healthcare software vendors, and entrepreneurs can all contribute to improving “the best care anywhere” being provided by VA today. 

[Click here for the full news release.]

[Click on VistA Modernization Working Group Report for the full report.]

[Medsphere CEO Mike Doyle comments on how these recommendations, once enacted, will impact Medsphere customers . . .

[In essence, this open-source VistA initiative will be tremendously beneficial for Medsphere and its customer partners, who will potentially enjoy billions of dollars in health IT development gratis. In other words, users of Medsphere's open-source electronic health record solution, OpenVista, which was derived from the VA's VistA system, can continue to enjoy the benefits of this free (through the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA]) national treasure for decades to come, confident that both systems are on parallel paths of continued modernization.

[This proposed direction further validates the path that Medsphere and OpenVista—in collaboration with customer partners and the Ecosystem—have been on for some time now. It’s refreshing to know that the federal government plans to invest billions in modernizing what is both the jewel of national health IT and the underlying health IT platform for healthcare organizations around the world.

[We look forward to working diligently and collaboratively with the federal government, and other organizations and vendors as appropriate, to ensure that the fruits of our own VistA/OpenVista modernization efforts—work we have engaged in since 2002—can be effectively shared with VA as they embark on this important initiative.]