On Baker's watch, the VA launched the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent , or OSEHRA, to serve as the coordinator of the open-source project and as custodian of VistA software developed going forward.
Sad to see Baker go is Dr. Nancy Anthracite, president of WorldVistA, a not-for-profit organization promoting the use of an open-source version of VistA, which predates and operates independent of OSEHRA.
“Prior to Roger Baker taking office, the interaction with the open-source VistA community consisted of the VA releasing its open-source code as a Freedom of Information Act release,” Anthracite said in an e-mail. Baker “understood the potential for huge benefit from a two-way exchange of code and open communication with the open-source community. We were astounded when he was successful in bring OSEHRA to life.
“The full potential of OSEHRA to shepherd VistA to being both open source and openly developed has yet to be achieved,” Anthracite said. “Once that potential is reached, we are confident the VA, potentially the DOD, and the world can benefit from huge cost savings and more rapid development, innovation and modernization of VistA. We greatly fear that the momentum toward achieving those benefits will be lost when Roger Baker leaves.”
What appeared as a threat to future open-source development of VistA was a project to create from scratch a new single common “best of breed” EHR to be used both by the VA and the Defense Department's Military Health System. But that project, which had become dominated by the military and was estimated to cost as much as $15 billion, was scrapped Feb. 5 by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as too expensive and time consuming. The secretaries announced as an alternative separate developments of each department's own systems with a plan toward greatly expanding their interoperability through 2014.