Veterans Affairs explores commercial cloud migration for health …

The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to industry experts to consider whether a commercial off-the-shelf, cloud-based platform could replace its current mess of an electronic health record system.

In a request for information released Wednesday, the VA proposes migrating its Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture, better known as VistA, to a software-as-a-service platform. It calls the hypothetical off-the-shelf system VistA-as-a-Service.

The call to industry focuses solely on the clinical EHR component of VistA, but also asks respondents to give feedback on possible modernizations of “integrated administrative, financial, business, and other supporting operations.”

The RFI is in no way a guarantee that VA will move in this direction to continue VistA as a COTS system; it simply means the department is considering it as an option, in addition to “exploring COTS non-VistA EHR alternatives” and other options. Acting VA CIO Rob Thomas said recently the department is considering as many as four different options for the future of its EHR. Secretary David Shulkin plans to announce the department’s decision in July.

Modernizing VistA to the commercial cloud would be no easy lift, particularly in minimizing or getting rid of its many redundancies, unique instances and interdependencies.

The VA currently runs 130 instances of VistA, each with its own routines and data dictionaries, the RFI explains. And things only get worse from there.

Each one is unique

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