Hospitals Adopting VA Electronic Health Records System Despite Complaints
The St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday examined the Department of Veterans Affairs' "lofty plans to overhaul" the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, which is being implemented by hospitals worldwide despite criticism from some users of the system. Proposed changes to VistA -- which was developed by VA programmers over two decades and has come to include more than 100 software applications -- include a new database, computer servers and operating system. VA is requesting an additional $3.5 billion in funds to overhaul the network over the next 10 years.
HHS has partnered with VA to finance a version of VistA called VistA-Office EHR to encourage doctors and clinics to install electronic health records. VistA-Office EHR will be available at no cost under the Freedom of Information Act and is scheduled to be released publicly on Aug. 1. VA technology chief Robert McFarland in budget testimony last year told Congress that VistA "is based on an old dying language, ... and it has evolved to where it has become very expensive to support." However, National Health Information Technology Coordinator David Brailer said, "It's not about the technology, it's about changing the practice" (Garza/Nohlgren, St. Petersburg Times, 5/31).