Electronic Health Records (EHR, EMR)
Not so fast, vendors, fixing VistA is not off the table
While the healthcare industry debates the future of the outdated EHR, VA’s acting undersecretary said the agency is still looking into all options.
Dr. Poonam Alaigh, Acting Under Secretary for Health at the VA speaks during the Health Datapalooza in Washington, D.C. on April 28.
While the industry is waiting for the Department of Veterans of Affairs to pick Cerner an off-the-shelf EHR to replace its legacy VistA electronic health record, a VA official on Friday said fixing the maligned platform isn’t being ruled out yet.
The EHR selection is one of the biggest projects the agency is working on right now, and VA realizes it needs to modernize, said VA’s Acting Undersecretary for Health Poonam Alaigh, MD, at the Health Datapalooza event. “We’re looking into modernizing VistA or using a commercial-off-the-shelf EMR.”
[Also: Of course VA should replace VistA with Cerner, readers say]
“It’s crucial to modernize the system,” she said. “VA is engrained into the healthcare society. When the VA makes progress, the rest of our healthcare system makes progress.”
Technology and modernization is at the heart of the VA’s goals, evidenced by the recent launch of the Access to Care site that provides veterans transparency on wait times and clinical care quality.
VistA has been a hot topic of debate, since VA Secretary David Shulkin announced the agency would make a decision on its future by July. From keeping VistA and shifting to open source, to canning VistA and moving to Cerner, there are many viable options for the outdated system.
[Also: Black Book: Cerner is best EHR to replace VA's VistA]
In the healthcare industry, however, many expect Cerner will get the contract, especially in the wake of its deal to modernize the Department of Defense’s system.
Black Book, which rates tech platforms, recently said Cerner would be the right choice for the agency, as well.
However, there have been outliers. Open source advocates, for example, think the VA should just improve VistA using open source code. At the same time, a Chilmark Research executive said picking any vendor other than Cerner would be a better choice if the agency wants to advance interoperability.
The VA is expected to make its decision on whether to seek an off-the-shelf product in July.
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