The Veterans Affairs Department—as part of an effort to show that it's keeping up with commercial electronic health-record system developers—has had its VistA EHR system tested and certified as a modular EHR under the terms of the federal EHR certification program.
The VA does not participate in the federal EHR incentive payment programs under Medicare and Medicaid, which require hospitals, physicians and other eligible professionals to use independently tested and certified health IT systems. But a VA official said in October that the giant healthcare organization—with more than 150 hospitals and more than 700 outpatient clinics—plans to have VistA tested and certified anyway to demonstrate that it is staying on par with other systems.
The immediate impact of ONC authorization of VistA on a growing community of commercial and not-for-profit developers of VistA derivative EHRs and their users is more symbolic than substantive. Four developers—commercial firms Medsphere Systems and DSS; the not-for-profit WorldVistA; and the Indian Health Service, an arm of HHS—all have tested and certified versions of VistA. Thus far, more than 70 healthcare organizations have used these ONC-approved VistA derivatives to meet Stage 1 meaningful-use criteria and receive payment under the Medicare EHR incentive payment program, federal records show.