IAC to VA: Modernize VistA

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (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 the department’s integrated health information system, VistA, according to a new report from the Industry Advisory Council (IAC). The 100-page report from the Washington, D.C.-based IAC provided recommendations to VA on how to modernize VistA (VA Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture).

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 IT industry.

VistA supports the 8 million veterans served by the VA’s 153 medical centers and 768 VA outpatient clinics. According to IAC, VistA, developed over the past 32 years, is a legacy system that must be updated and modernized. IAC concluded that the 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 which includes a business model, charter, bylaws, operating principles and organizational blueprint for an independent, nonprofit 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," stated the report.

The objective is to provide an environment within which VA employees, large prime contractors, healthcare professions, innovative small companies, healthcare software vendors, and entrepreneurs can all contribute to improving “the best care anywhere” being provided by VA today, stated the IAC.

Click here for the full report.