Four federal healthcare agencies will create a change control board to keep up to date the proposed free Vista Office Electronic Health Record system, an adaptation for physician offices of the EHR used at more than 1,300 care sites operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, a leader of the federal development team said.
Capt. Cynthia Wark, an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, said the VA, the CMS, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Indian Health Service will form the core group for the entity. "We don't want to imply that it's formed or decided upon," Wark said. "We're just putting together a draft charter, but there is an agreement of how we want to operate with each other."
Wark is deputy director of the information and systems group in the office of clinical standards at CMS, which is the lead agency handling the Vista Office adaptation.
The change control board will keep the proposed software variation current with changes and improvements as they come along after the software is launched next year, Wark said.
In addition, "Our federal goal is to work together and use our federal recourses most efficiently," she said. "We want to capitalize what has already been done."
For example, the Indian Health Service used the VA's Vista system as a base to create its own clinical information technology system called Resource and Patient Management System. The IHS provides healthcare for 1.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in 35 states. One of the goals of the Vista Office project is to incorporate the pediatric-care module developed by IHS into Vista Office before it is distributed, Wark said.
The target date to have the free software available for distribution remains July 1, 2005.
"That's our goal and we're going to meet it," Wark said.
Vista stands for Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, a comprehensive IT system with more than 100 subprograms that include an EHR, pharmacy operating system, e-mail, electronic prescribing and imaging archiving and retrieval program. It operates in more than 150 VA hospitals and 850 outpatient clinics.
About 75 people on Wednesday attended a Vista Office meeting in Washington, D.C. They included representatives from the four federal agencies as well as a number of information technology vendors, including Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., McKesson Corp. and IDX Systems Corp., Wark said. Robert Kolodner, M.D., the acting deputy chief information officer for health in the Veterans Health Administration, gave a demonstration of the current Vista system.
Other goals of the government are to adapt Vista Office to provide data for the CMS' Physician Focused Quality Initiative, which aims to assess the quality of care provided to Medicare patients for certain clinical conditions, and to help investigate the potential for a Medicare pay-for-performance plan.
Physicians interested staying abreast of the Vista Office project will find updates at the CMS Web site.