VA starts online open source community for VistA

The Veterans Affairs Department has started its online open-source community intended to leverage crowdsourced knowledge to update its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) electronic health record system, officials announced.

 The website debuted on Aug. 30. The Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent  will serve as the central governing body of a new open source Electronic Health Record community, according to a VA announcement.

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The VA intends to modernize VistA with open-source code, and to use those applications in the joint digital record system being developed with the Defense Department.

“With the launch of OSEHRA, we begin the implementation of our strategy and we look forward to the creation of a vibrant open source Electronic Health Record community.” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said.

To start the activity, the VA has contributed VistA computer code to the open-source community of users, developers and service providers. Those who wish to participate in enhancing the software can sign up to join the community on the OSEHRA website.

VA contracted with Informatics Application Group to serve as the custodial agent for the VistA open-source community.

Roger Baker, the VA’s assistant secretary for information and technology, said the move to leverage open source software for its huge legacy system was two years in the making.

“I have great optimism that this will lead the way to how these [open-source] systems get done,” he said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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