U.K. Considers VA's VistA System To Expand Open-Source Software


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U.K. Considers VA’s VistA System To Expand Open-Source Software

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service has announced it is assessing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ VistA electronic health record system as it investigates how to expand the U.K.’s open-source software development programs to meet the country’s health IT needs, Modern Healthcare reports.

NHS said in its 52-page report — titled, “Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards: Achieving an Integrated Digital Care Record” — that the effort will be financed in part through a $394 million technology fund announced in May by the U.K.’s health secretary to facilitate “the rapid progression to digital records.”

NHS also is considering several open-source systems developed in the U.K. (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 7/2).


In March, the Veterans Health Administration and NHS announced they were partnering on a three-year initiative to explore how the two agencies use health IT. The initiative involves the exchange of leaders, staff and ideas. Through the project, the two agencies hope to learn from one another about:

  • Improving patient outcomes through a digital transformation of health care;

  • Using remote patient monitoring for chronic care management;

  • Replacing face-to-face physician visits with telehealth and video conferencing;

  • Using mobile health devices to empower health care providers and patients; and

  • Using secure messaging and personal health records to support doctor-patient communication (iHealthBeat, 3/25).

VistA and Blue Button Considerations

In the report, NHS explained it was “looking to adopt some of the ethos behind [the creation of VHA’s VistA] and potentially part, or all, of the technical product, in combination with others, to generate ‘NHS VistA.'” The agency added that NHS officials had visited VHA to undertake “an initial assessment of product capability” and determine what technological customization would be required for NHS’ use.

Seong Ki Mun — president of OSEHRA, the not-for-profit, open-source custodial agent that updates the VistA system — said that VHA offered to help NHS install the code, explaining, “Having more people use VistA means there will be more expertise and more people trained in the VistA code.”  

Mun added that NHS officials during their visits also showed interest in the Blue Button program. That program allows patients to view, download or transmit electronic copies of their medical records (Modern Healthcare, 7/2).