What is OSEHRA VistA?

OSEHRA VistA is a community-supported, open source Electronic Health Record (EHR) that can be obtained at no cost, customized, and implemented by developers or providers in the healthcare industry. It is based upon, and maintains bi-directional compatibility with the VistA EHR system developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but also includes a wide range of enhancements from the community at large.

OSEHRA VistA’s growth and evolution are driven entirely by the open source EHR community. The product comprises a core platform and a collection of interoperable components that allow implementers to assemble the exact combination of features and functions required to meet their specific needs.

What does "Open Source" mean?

OSEHRA VistA is licensed under the Apache 2.0 Open Source License. That means the source code for the entire system is available to the public free of charge. Open Source enables adopters to easily obtain the code, use it, improve it, and share enhancements fluidly and freely with the rest of the Open Source Community through OSEHRA. In short, everyone benefits from the collective contributions to the shared code base.

What does this mean to me?

An open source EHR solution offers:

  • Lower life cycle cost
  • The reliability of a proven solution
  • Reduced risk of obsolescence
  • The ability to improve your system without waiting for the next proprietary product release
  • A dynamic, free platform for development
  • For developers and integrators, there a is growing market for installation, customization, and support services

Powering Healthcare for Over 30 Years.

VistA stands for “Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture.” Originally created in the 1970’s, VistA has benefited from more than 30 years of continuous, clinician-driven improvement. Today’s VistA serves nearly 9 million Veterans as part of the largest healthcare system in the United States. It is a comprehensive system for managing both large and small healthcare facilities, providing functions ranging from prescription refills to employee timekeeping.

In addition to its deployment by VA, VistA serves more than 1,800 hospitals and other healthcare providers around the world. In fact, a 2011 survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians ranked VistA’s primary user interface in the top 10 for user satisfaction, and first in several other categories. The newest major implementation will be the “Empire State VistA” system, planned to cover mental health services at 23 hospitals and over 300 clinics throughout the State of New York 

Where do I begin?

You don't need to be a programmer to get started using VistA. Download a demo version of Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS), the primary doctor's user interface, and try it out today.  To learn how to use CPRS, check out the CPRS User Guide: GUI Version or for a more in depth training, see the free online interactive CPRS training course available from VA eHealth University.

OSEHRA provides source code and a variety of supporting resources to get you up and running on an OSEHRA VistA instance.  To learn more, visit Getting Started. Next, we encourage you to engage with the OSEHRA community.  This community is your window into a world of innovation and collaboration.  Developers may wish to learn more and contribute to development, while providers considering a production installation should engage with OSEHRA corporate members or participate in free working groups to explore how their needs may best be addressed.    If you have questions, send them to info@osehra.org

Choosing a Distribution.

One of the many advantages of open source code is that anyone can customize it to meet particular needs. The resulting versions of the code are known as “distributions.” For example, the Indian Health Service has created their own distribution of VistA called the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS), geared toward ambulatory care. Many commercial vendors in the community have modified and extended VistA to address their customers’ needs, and offer the software as a fully-supported solution. If you are considering VistA and have unique requirements, it may make sense to create your own distribution based on what is available in OSEHRA VistA.

Most current distributions pre-date the creation of OSEHRA VistA, which was launched to fill the need for a common reference version of VistA to serve the entire community. Moving ahead, content from these distributions are being integrated into OSEHRA VistA as prioritized by the community. 

To learn more about the distributions of VistA, and find out which one might be the best for you, visit Distributions of VistA.