March 4, 2016 | By Molly Bernhart Walker
The Veterans Affairs Department has taken a “step back” from its work evolving its open source electronic health records to review whether the program is on the right track and to instead focus on interoperability with the Defense Department’s forthcoming commercial electronic health records.
During a March 2 hearing before the House Appropriations subcommittee on military construction, Veterans Affairs and related agencies, VA Chief Information Officer LaVerne Council said the department had not yet decided if it might replace VistA with a commercial off the shelf solution.
VA is reviewing the program to consider what sort of capabilities will be needed for a healthcare tool “we can grow upon,” she said.
Despite the president’s fiscal 2017 budget request for VA including a $40 million reduction in funding for VistA Evolution, Undersecretary for Health at the Veterans Health Administration David Shulkin said “We are not slowing down anything on VistA. We have millions of dollars to enhance this.”
Shulkin said the VistA Evolution pause showed the department undertaking a careful review, to ensure BA is being a good steward of taxpayer dollars.
“We came into these roles to make sure this is the right plan for veterans and the right plan for the American public,” he said.
In recent years, VA has worked to modernize, and then “evolve” its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, known as VistA, to improve its capabilities and better enable it to share information with the Defense Department.
Council said the millions of dollars put toward VistA Evolution thus far have not been a waste.
“The dollars that were in the VistA Evolution were primarily focused not only on interoperability but also the sustainability of VistA in allowing it to grow,” she told lawmakers.
VistA Evolution investments included networking, infrastructure sustainment, the continuation of legacy capabilities and capability upgrades. It has also funded clinical terminology standardization, “which is a key part of being able to have care in the community or interface with care outside of the VA,” said Council.
While the business case review for VistA has halted further development of the platform for now, Council used the hearing to tout recent wins – such as surpassing 35,000 clinicians using the system’s Joint Legacy Viewer.
Council said the VA is on schedule to define clear interoperability with DoD in March and have key capability between VA’s Electronic Health Management Platform and DoD’s Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization platform by August.
Article link: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/future-vista-evolution-uncertain/2016-03-04?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRokuanIe%252B%252FhmjTEU5z14ugrX6K3lMI%252F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4ET8JmNK%252BTFAwTG5toziV8R7LMKM1ty9MQWxTk
– go to the hearing page (includes archived webcast and prepared testimony)
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