By Sandra Basu
WASHINGTON — After years of working to modernize its electronic health record internally, a senior IT official indicated last month that a shift to a commercial EHR is the likely path forward for VA.
“It is going to be my goal and my charge that we go commercial to the greatest extent possible, because we have not had a great track record on developing software,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and CIO Rob C. Thomas.
VA and DoD decided to use different EHRs back in 2013. At the time, VA said it would modernize VistA while DoD said it would buy a commercially-available system, which it rolled out at its first medical facility last month.
Last year, VA appeared to shift directions when officials said that, while it would release VistA 4 in fiscal year 2018, the system might not be the EHR that it uses in the future.
Thomas told lawmakers at a House committee hearing that VA completed a cost-benefit analysis of continued development of VistA as well as other EHR options, completed at the end of December of 2016.
While he said he was “confident” the agency was “going to go commercial,” he cautioned that he “cannot speak” for then-VA Secretary nominee David J. Shulkin, MD, who was awaiting confirmation at the time of the hearing.
“I’ve worked with him the past 18 months; he’s very decisive,” Thomas explained.