Medsphere Supports Informatics Education Through Electronic Health Records Project for Nursing and Medical Schools

Academic Incubator Program Provides University of Oklahoma College of Nursing and Other Higher Education Institutions with Medsphere’s OpenVista EHR

Medsphere Systems Corporation, the leading provider of Open Source healthcare IT solutions, today announced that the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing has contracted with Medsphere to participate in the new Academic Incubator Program, an effort to help educate students in nursing and medical schools about healthcare IT and clinical informatics.

As part of the program, Medsphere will provide institutions with the company’s OpenVista Open Source electronic health records (EHR), as well as implementation and support services, at a special educational rate. The Academic Incubator Program manifests Medsphere’s belief that direct and early experience with clinical information systems will be increasingly important to medical and nursing students as they become practicing clinicians.

Part of the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center, the College of Nursing contracted to participate in the Medsphere program to provide students with education in new and emerging technologies by integrating selected healthcare informatics experience into a baccalaureate nursing curriculum.

Through the Academic Incubator Program, University faculty will develop simulated patient data in the OpenVista system for use in clinical courses where students will practice documenting and retrieving data using the EHR system. OpenVista also provides the University’s nursing students with an opportunity not available with proprietary systems: the ability to make contributions to the overall solution and through its contract to actively participate in EHR design and development.

“Using an actual electronic health record in undergraduate nursing courses will help us educate tomorrow’s nurses on clinical information systems now in use at hospitals across the country and develop the healthcare informatics competencies they will need to practice in today’s technology-rich environments,” said Gary L. Loving, PhD, RN, CNE, Assistant dean - Center for Educational Excellence, University of Oklahoma College of Nursing. Dr. Loving is project director for the HRSA grant project at the OU College of Nursing.  “The project is designed to educate healthcare practitioners in health care information technology. As one of the first to join this initiative, we look forward to working closely with Medsphere and the rest of the OpenVista community on continued development of the technology for use in academic settings.”

As patients, hospitals and even the federal government press for nationwide adoption of EHRs, colleges and universities have begun to recognize the importance of giving students practice with clinical information systems early in their education. To this end, a few medical schools and university-based nursing institutions have initiated academic applications of commercial clinical information systems to teach students informatics competencies.

OpenVista is the commercialized version of VistA EHR created and developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over more than 20 years and credited with helping turn the VA into a national leader in quality patient care. OpenVista technology uses Open Source code available from the VA through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Medsphere supports the technology and works collaboratively on updates, enhancements and modifications with the Healthcare Open Source Ecosystem, a community of healthcare facilities, developers, value-added resellers, clinicians and other interested parties dedicated to improving patient care through

Open Source tools. The result is a comprehensive, feature-rich EHR for training future nurses. In addition, schools that join the Medsphere Academic Incubator Program will become part of the growing Ecosystem and participate in the development of OpenVista.

The adoption of OpenVista at the education level can also prepare many students for later residency training. In the U.S., more than 85 percent of VA hospitals are teaching hospitals and more than half of all medical students rotate through the VA each year. By the time they reach residency, about 65 percent of all physicians trained in the U.S. will have some experience with VistA. With its roots in VistA and a growing number of healthcare organizations around the country live on the system, OpenVista will help medical students gain experience and familiarity with the system.

“Medsphere’s Academic Incubator Program will make schools of medicine and nursing key players in developing the Healthcare Open Source Ecosystem and fundamental contributors to the improvement of healthcare nationwide. Students of medicine and nursing can make real contributions to modernizing the industry in which they will spend their lives,” said Michael J. Doyle, president and CEO at Medsphere. “We are thrilled at the prospect of working with University of Oklahoma and look forward to the contributions the university can make to the Ecosystem and the development of OpenVista.”

About the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Project

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center project is supported by funds from the Division of Nursing (DN), Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under grant number D11HP09755, “Use of an Open-Source EHR for Nursing Education in Informatics.” The information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any official endorsement be inferred by, the DN, BHPr, HRSA, DHHS or the US Government.”

About Medsphere and OpenVista