The US government is one of the largest providers of health services in America. In particular, veterans are a major demographic of those who receive government funded medical services. The many VA clinics throughout the country must function in a manner that is highly interoperable and responsive. The government is a hit-or-miss entity for the adoption of new technology. In this instance, however, the model used for medical management among the various VA branches is a paradigm for the medical industry in reference to new regulations which will soon change the manner in which medical information is administered.
Paper records will soon be a part of the past when HITECH Act comes into play as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This act will mandate that all medical facilities make “meaningful use” of digital systems for the retention of patient medical information. These systems, known as electronic medical records (EMRs), are part of category of software that will allow the comprehensive collection of all medical information for every field of medicine. It is suggested that medical care facilities begin implementation of such systems as soon as possible as enforcement will begin in 2015.
The VistA platform is one of the most widely recognized EMR systems, as it the software of choice for the VA. A large percentage of American’s are eligible for such benefits, so it is quite familiar amongst doctors and other healthcare professionals as they have likely encountered this system throughout their career.
VistA is has been used by over 60% of physicians throughout the US; training programs for entry level doctors and other medical professionals typically start with government sponsored programs. The intent of VistA is to eventually incorporate several different foundations to increase the collaboration among medical service providers such that providers outside government funded agencies will be able to efficiency make use of the VistA platform.
The VistA program is a comprehensive software platform which encompasses all aspects of health care, ranging from prenatal care through end of life services, incorporating such businesses as Hospice and other 3rd party providers. The platform itself is presented as a simple GUI, built upon a perceived Visual Basic interface which grants a level of familiarity to users who may have experienced other EMR systems. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) incorporates over 160 different application instances, which is supported by over 160 hospitals, more than 130 nursing homes as well as 800 plus clinics in the United States.