Open-source EHR suite gets upgrade

The Pacific Telehealth & Technology Hui

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WorldVistA

The Pacific Telehealth and Technology Hui released an upgrade of open-source electronic health records software this week based on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VISTA) software.

Pacific Telehealth and Technology, a developer of health information technology applications, transferred the upgrade to WorldVistA, an open-source software nonprofit organization that provides a baseline for development. The organization -- backed by the Defense Department's Pacific Regional Medical Command and the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System -- started work in June 2003 on its open-source version of OpenVista, a nonproprietary, open-source health care information system based on VISTA.

The latest release, Hui OpenVista Version 3.0, simplifies the steps needed to convert the VA software version released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The new hui, which means group in Hawaiian, version of OpenVista helps users to quickly download the baseline as a starting point for configuring the system to their specific requirements. Hui officials said more than 2,000 people have downloaded its open-source health IT software since June 2003.

The latest version of the software provides a preconfigured baseline electronic health records system using the March 2004 version of VISTA with selected VA patches released by January 2005 applied to the system's core modules, including the kernel, scheduling, outpatient pharmacy, order entry, laboratory, and text integration utility. In addition, the outpatient pharmacy database has been populated with a minimum subset of current drugs and matched to the orderable item and order quick view files.

Hui officials described the release as a significant step forward in making VISTA technology available to non-VA hospitals and clinics.

"Since release in 2003, interest in Hui OpenVista has grown substantially, spurring the economic development needed to support the increased demand for affordable healthcare information systems," said Dr. Stanley Saiki, director of Pacific Telehealth and Technology.

WorldVistA director Joseph Dal Molin described the release as a significant milestone because all non-VA versions of VISTA are merging into one release. It also establishes a pedigree for code components, Dal Molin said.

Last month WorldVistA won a contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to provide vendor support and training for a CMS version of VISTA that the agency plans to distribute to physicians.

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