May 25, 2009

For Our Troops: VA Electronic Records and Thanks

Flags at tombstones at Arlington National CemetaryToday is Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have sacrificed their lives because we have asked them to. There are no words to express both the awe for and the profound loss of these brave men and women.

Today also is a day to think about the many service men and women who have returned home. These vets are supported by the Veterans Health Administration and their award-winning electronic patient records system, VisitA. Yes, since 2006, the VA has model system of electronic health records which reduces costs and errors while increasing safety and efficiency. A few measures:
  • The cost of maintaining the system is $80 per patient per year, less than the cost of one unnecessarily repeated lab test.
  • The VA outperforms all other sectors of American health care across 294 measures of quality in disease prevention and treatment.
  • Patient waiting times have declined.
The VA's system is open source so it can be freely adapted and used by civilian hospitals. Currently, less than 2% of non-VA hospitals have a full-fledged electronic patient record. This is a great example of innovation in the government sector that can solve a universal problem. As health care reform heats up this summer, expect to see more on the VA's systems.

A bit off topic, two other links for Memorial Day. 

First, an incredible mashup using Google Earth called Map The Fallen-- a new online memorial to honor those service members who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. You need Google Earth to see it, but please check out the video demo, it is truly amazing

Second, see for a small way to thank our troops. The campaign includes calls to tweet about your hero (@remind_org and #tweettoremind), share videos, and micro-fundraising. Five minutes and $5.25 isn't much to say, "Thanks!"

1 comment:

  1. Following up, a few people were interested in the URL for the source code for the VA's VistA systems.

    Here are two places to start:

    The VHA software document library is at

    or, you can view related documents and links to VistA UML documentation, data dictionaries, etc. from the search at VA's site


I hope that you will read and comment, ask questions and make suggestions. I just ask that you simply stay on topic, respect other people’s opinions, avoid profanity, offensive statements, illegal content, and other unpleasantries. Since this is my personal blog, I reserve the right to delete any comment.