CMS To Distribute Test Software for Electronic Health Records
A test version of electronic health records software known as Vista-Office has been made available by CMS for use in doctor's offices, as part of the Bush administration's goal for widespread EHR implementation within 10 years, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 9/19). The software, which Department of Veterans Affairs providers have used for 20 years, currently is being used by 1,300 inpatient and outpatient VA facilities.
CMS officials said the VistA offer could save physicians tens of thousands of dollars on computerizing costs. CMS estimated that practices that install the VistA system will spend $10,000 to $12,000 on implementation, while purchase and installation of other EHR systems could cost as much as $100,000 for a five-physician private practice.
Installation of the new version, known as Vista-Office, is expected to require fewer steps than the original VistA, and CMS will provide doctors with lists of companies that have been trained to install and maintain the system (California Healthline, 7/21).
According to CQ HealthBeat, the CMS press release issued on Monday to announce the software's availability "was written in language that seems unlikely to play up expectations for the software." The CMS release stated that the software test would allow "an assessment of its effectiveness in private physician's offices" and that the system was not free. CMS said it also wanted to test Vista-Office's interoperability with other computer systems.
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan said that the test will help a public-private advisory committee appointed by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt create a process for certifying EHR software (CQ HealthBeat, 9/19).