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VA, Tiag launch site for open-source EHR development


By Joseph Conn
Posted: August 31, 2011 - 12:00 pm ET
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The Veterans Affairs Department and the contractor it hired to create a "custodial agent" for the department's proposed open-source development project for its VistA electronic health-record system announced the launch of a new website and a new name for the project.

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In a news release, the VA declared the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent to be the not-for-profit "central governing body of an open-source community designed to unleash innovation in electronic health-record software." Begun by the VA and incorporating the department's VistA electronic health-record system, OSEHRA (pronounced "Oh Sara") "welcomes participation from everyone—in government, industry and academia—who has an interest in advancing EHR technology and its impact on healthcare," the osehra.org website explains.

The website, launched Tuesday, was developed pursuant to a contract between the VA and the Informatics Applications Group, a privately held, for-profit company based in Reston, Va., to get the open-source project off the ground. Tiag was named in June as the winning bidder on the nearly $5 million contract.

The site contains a host of documents about the open-source project, including a 35-page white paper (PDF) devoted exclusively to the type of open-source software license to be used by the project.

Currently at the VA, the VistA system is classified as public-domain software, and the bulk of it can be obtained without charge from the VA under the Freedom of Information Act.

The white paper contains a recommendation that the custodial agent adopt the Apache Software Foundation's Apache 2.0 software license for the source code governed by the project, which is to include the VA's donation of much of the current VistA code.


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