WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs is at work on the next generation of VistA, its 20-plus year-old electronic medical record system, which is often praised by users but considered a headache to planners working to bring VA health systems fully into the Internet age.
The new system – dubbed Aviva – is designed to be Web-enabled, modular and capable of easily exchanging health records with other EMRs and organizations using standards built for the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN, U.S).
In contrast, the current version of VistA resides on tens of thousands of computers, is difficult to upgrade and presents obstacles to VA plans to share information with other agencies and heath organizations, according to its chief technology officer.
It is difficult for VA to exchange data with external partners, the aim of its Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) project with the Kaiser Permanente and the Defense Department to provide better care for veterans who get treatment from the three organizations, he said.
Additionally, any changes or bug fixes planned for VistA must be made on each of the thousands of computers across the VA system.
In developing Aviva, the VA wants to build a platform that can scale with the veterans’ population and accommodate “in a modular, perhaps open source, framework multiple development teams” that could install their applications into the system’s backbone platform.
Though AVIVA would remain a key component of VistA, VA’s most important initial goal for AVIVA is making its EMR system interoperable with other systems and agencies.
In making it interoperable, VA would “segregate the presentation layer of VistA and attach it to the nationwide health information network.”
About VAThe United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense. The Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) is an enterprise-wide information system built around an electronic health record, used throughout the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical system, known as the Veterans Health Administration.