One of the world’s most sophisticated systems for keeping electronic health records

One of the world’s most sophisticated systems for keeping electronic health records will soon be easily available to doctors, hospitals and clinics around the country, courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“VA is proud to lead the health care industry in the use of information technology. The expertise we have gained, however, belongs to the American public,” said Dr. Jonathan Perlin, VA's Acting Under Secretary for Health. “With our federal partners, we're making it easier for the private-sector health care industry to make use of this electronic system for health care records."

The system, called VistA-Office Electronic Health Record, was developed by VA. A version of VistA is used at more than 1,300 VA facilities throughout the United States to maintain records on 5 million veterans who receive their health care from VA.

Under the plan announced today, private-sector health care providers can obtain a version of VistA at nominal cost. Distribution of the software is expected to begin in late 2005.

VistA offers health care providers a complete electronic record covering all aspects of patient care, including reminders for preventive health care, electronic entry of pharmaceutical orders, display of laboratory results, consultation requests, x-rays and pathology slides.

Besides the VA system, VistA is currently used by the Department of Health for the District of Columbia, plus health care systems in Finland, Germany, Egypt and Nigeria.

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