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VA now loves its VistA software

VA CIO Roger Baker, who was confirmed to his position in May, is calling VistA "the best in the world" and seeking to offer it to the rest of the government, and the health care industry.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

The Veterans Administration (VA), which a few years ago looked ready to scrap its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), is now looking into leveraging it elsewhere.

The Industry Advisory Council (IAC), part of the American Council for Technology (ACT), has set up a VistA Working Group to examine the electronic health record (EHR) system's  potential. The working group met yesterday in Tyson's Corner, Virginia.

The VA, which wrote VistA starting in the 1980s, had been in the process of replacing it with proprietary software until this year.

Now VA CIO Roger Baker (right), who was confirmed to his position in May, is calling VistA "the best in the world" and seeking to offer it to the rest of the government, and the health care industry.

It is an amazing turnaround for VistA, which during the Bush years was being systematically starved for upgrade money.

Ed Meagher, who "retired" from government service last year and took a job with SRA International, a consulting company, is heading the new working group.

Meagher was honored by Federal Computer Week for his service to veterans in 2005. A Vietnam Vet himself, he has been active in the Wounded Warrior project for many years. He has been listed as a member at Medsphere.org, the community arm of a company commercializing VistA, since October 12.

The IAC has given itself six months to answer the following questions:

  1. What should VistA's future be outside the VA?
  2. Could it become a standard for EHRs?
  3. How should it be upgraded?
  4. How would that impact its future?

The list reads like a roadmap for not only saving VistA, but making it a major player in the battle for HITECH stimulus cash.

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