The VA Wants To Use Open Source To Make Electronic Health Records Better

Setting up an open source "ecosystem" is the goal of new RFI

For years now the health care industry has been in search of a uniform, unified, interchangeable health record format that would allow different systems and different providers to share and use information seamlessly. Even with HIPAA, Hi-Tech and everything else, there has not been on health record format that has become the standard.  Now the Veterans Administration is enlisting the help of open source to make their VistA format that universal format. They have released an RFI that seeks to build consensus around the organization and character of an open source ecosystem to support it.

Like so many things the Federal Government gets involved in, deciding to enlist open source help around VistA seems to be made a bit more complicated. The RFI lays out a strategy to establish a custodial agent to handle the management of the open source code.  The somewhat complicated structure would look something like this according to this report:

While it certainly seems a little out of the ordinary, the problem it is trying to solve is a large one.  For a long time I have thought that an open source solution was the key to solving the portable health record. This way no one has an inherent advantage and all of the players start from the same base. 

Of course there will be those who seek to "extend and enhance" the standard, but if it stays open source, we all win.  

This is just an RFI, so it just is asking for information.  Usually this means that a RFP, a request for proposal will follow sometime in the future. But there is no guarantee.  Sometimes a federal agency will put out an RFI, gather information and go in a different direction.  in this case lets be on the lookout for the RFP.

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