Free EHR software is on hold

Physician Focused Quality Initiative, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Related Links

The release of free electronic health record (EHR) software that physicians could download from the Department of Health and Human Services has been delayed indefinitely, a department official said yesterday.

Dr. Karen Bell, division director of the Quality Improvement Group at HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told a conference audience that VistA-Office “is undergoing a review right now by the secretary’s office.… You can’t download anything” now.

VistA-Office, based on the EHR system that the Department of Veterans Affairs developed for use in VA hospitals and clinics, was supposed to be released in July and then in August.

Bell declined to speculate on what HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt would decide about releasing VistA-Office.

But she said that no physician has ever downloaded, installed and used the complete software suite in its current form. She said pilot tests would normally be used to ensure that a software package works before it is released to the public.

EHR software for doctors’ offices usually costs at least $10,000. Physicians, especially those in small practices, regard the high cost as a major barrier to widespread adoption of health information technology. The offer of free software from the government was intended to encourage use of EHRs.

Although doctors will not have to pay to download VistA-Office when it becomes available, few doctors have the technical expertise and time to install the system and get it running. Most users are likely to hire consultants to help with the installation, officials have said, so they will incur some costs.

Bell also said that CMS will develop online training courses and lessons learned presentations to help physicians increase the quality of care they provide. The resources, part of the Doctors’ Office Quality program, will be labeled DOQ-U, she said.

Bell spoke at the Health IT Summit sponsored by the eHealth Initiative in Washington, D.C.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.