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VA May Drop VistA For Commercial EHR

Posted on July 12, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

It’s beginning to look like the famed VistA EHR may be shelved by the Department of Veterans Affairs, probably to be replaced by a commercial EHR rollout. If so, it could spell the end of the VA’s involvement in the highly-rated open source platform, which has been in use for 40 years. It will be interesting to see how the commercial EHR companies that support Vista would be impacted by this decision.

The first rumblings were heard in March, when VA CIO LaVerne Council  suggested that the VA wasn’t committed to VistA. Now Council, who supervises the agency’s $4 billion IT budget, sounds a bit more resolved. “I have a lot of respect for VistA but it’s a 40-year-old product,” Council told Politico. “Looking at what technology can do today that it couldn’t do then — it can do a lot.”

Her comments were echoed by VA undersecretary for health David Shulkin, who last month told a Senate hearing that the agency is likely to replace VistA with commercial software.

Apparently, the agency will leave VistA in place through 2018. At that point, the agency expects to begin creating a cloud-based platform which may include VistA elements at its core, Politico reports. Council told the hearing that VA IT leaders expect to work with the ONC, as well as the Department of Defense, in building its new digital health platform.

Particularly given its history, which includes some serious fumbles, it’s hardly surprising that some Senate members were critical of the VA’s plans. For example, Sen. Patty Murray said that she was still disappointed with the agency’s 2013 decision back to call of plans for an EHR that integrated fully with the DoD. And Sen. Richard Blumenthal expressed frustration as well. “The decades of unsuccessful attempts to establish an electronic health record system that is compatible across the VA in DoD has caused hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to be wasted,” he told the committee.

Now, the question is what commercial system the VA will select. While all the enterprise EHR vendors would seem to have a shot, it seems to me that Cerner is a likely bet. One major reason to anticipate such a move is that Cerner and its partners recently won the $4.3 billion contract to roll out a new health IT platform for the DoD.

Not only that, as I noted in a post earlier this year, the buzz around the deal suggested that Cerner won the DoD contract because it was seen as more open than Epic. I am taking no position on whether there’s any truth to this belief, nor how widespread such gossip may be. But if policymakers or politicians do see Cerner as more interoperability-friendly, that will certainly boost the odds that the VA will choose Cerner as partner.

Of course, any EHR selection process can take crazy turns, and when you grow in politics the process can even crazier. So obviously, no one knows what the VA will do. In fact, given their battles with the DoD maybe they’ll go with Epic just to be different. But if I were a Cerner marketer I’d like my odds.

T2 Mood Tracker Updated and Wins Award

Posted on February 28, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Several months ago, The Department of Defense released LifeArmor, an app created for military families coping with stress.  T2 Mood Tracker, released in 2010, was also created by a department in the Department of Defense. This app was created to help people, particularly those in the military, track their emotions over time and be able to use it to discuss with their healthcare provider. Although this app has been available for awhile, it recently had some updates.

The app was originally created for military personnel, but it has become very popular with people not in the military as well. It comes with six pre-loaded “issues” that can be tracked, though customized ones can be added as well. The six included are anxiety, depression, general well-being, head injury, post traumatic stress disorder, and stress. After selecting the issues, the user simply moves the slider to select which word describes them best at any point.


After doing this, the app will automatically graph the results, and a user can also write down notes throughout the day, to give insight to why certain times were worse/better than other times.

With the recent update, users can do quite a few new things, which include:

  • PDF or CSV generated reports that can be printed or email for a provider
  • Data can be backed up to a phone’s SD card
  • Find psychological health support in your area
  • Set reminders to update moods
  • Results are shown in easy to read graphs

I really like this app, from what I’ve seen, and I think the updates make it even more user friendly, and helpful for those that are using it. I’m glad that it is now being encouraged for people in and outside of the military to use it as well.

This app also won first place in the general wellness category of the Apps4Army competition. It can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices, free of charge.

Global eHealth Olympics, LifeArmor, and Meaningful Use Stage 3 Draft: Around HealthCare Scene

Posted on August 12, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Time to take a quick look at some of the interesting posts happening on the other Healthcare Scene blogs. I think you’ll enjoy many of the posts.


Would Meaningful Use Go Away Under a Romney Presidency

With the November presidential election quickly approaching, there are many questions floating around. With Mitt Romney’s desire to repeal ObamaCare, some are wondering if he will try and stop HITECH as well. And if so, what is the fate of Meaningful Use.

Global eHealth Olympics

While the 2012 Olympics in London have been on the minds of many across the world for the past two weeks, Blair Butterfield suggested another sort of Olympics — one comparing the health care of different countries. He asks the question, “What if we compared our healthcare system to those of Europe, Asia and the Middle East in terms of areas like integration, communication and population health? How would the U.S. fare?” This post contains ideas for the different “events” that might occur in an eHealth Olympics, as well as suggestions for the top contenders for each category.

Meaningful Health IT News

Colbert Lampoons Proteus Digital Pill

The Proteus digital pill has gotten a lot of attention since it was announced. Included in that attention was a bit about it on the Colbert Report. It’s a spoof, of course, but somewhat entertaining. As Neil Versel says, “At least Colbert’s version featured a wireless tablet computer.

Smart Phone Health Care

LifeArmor Created for Military Families for Coping with Stress

A mobile app created by the Department of Defense aims to help military families cope with different issues. It addresses 17 topics, including depression and post-traumatic stress. The app takes content from the D0D website, AfterDeployment, and has videos and assessments. The app is free.

Several Pharmacies Offer Online Services for Patients

In-store pharmacies have started offering online services to make re-filling and transferring prescriptions easier than ever. Target and Walgreens are among those stores, and there are positives and negatives to using these services. Have you switched to online management of prescriptions?

Hospital EMR and EHR

Population Health Management is No Fad

Is population health management a fad, or is it here to stay? Anne references a recent column by Information Week by Paul Cerrato, where he states that it is. However, while she agrees that Cerrato’s column was “well-argued,” she disagrees with the suggestion.

Meaningful Use Stage 3 Draft On The Way

Although the MU Stage 2 final draft hasn’t been released yet, the draft regulations for stage 3 are apparently going to be released in August. Healthcare Informatics suggested a list of recommendations that are likely to be in stage 3, such as tracking individual care goals, and track tracks/steps and responsible party.