W. VA. Rolls Out Enhancements To VistA

Officials with the West Virginia bureau of behavior health and health facilities are putting some finishing touches on VistA installations cutting across the state, adding computerized laboratory information to a six-year-old implementation.

West Virginia officials have implemented Vista in seven communities, Modern Healthcare reports. Facilities include an acute-care hospital, two psychiatric hospitals, four long-term care hospitals, a nursing home and two ambulatory care clinics.  The facilities are all connected to a central database in Charleston via T1 lines.

The state has been working on contract with Medsphere Systems Corp. to install a VistA version known as FOIA VistA, a version in the public domain that can be obtained freely from the VA under the Freedom of Information Act, Modern Healthcare notes.

Though VistA itself is free, the state has spent heavily on installing it across the seven sites.  Since FY 2005, West Virginia has paid Medsphere $8.4 million for system implementation, development and support, and is contracted to pay the vendor $939,800 this year for support.

In addition to paying Medsphere a monthly fee for systems support, the state pays licensing fees to InterSystems, developer of Cache, a version of the MUMPS database and programming language. It also licenses Keane’s financial system, which interfaces with VistA.

West Virginia began looking at a common infrastructure for all of its facilities when HIPAA passed back in 1996, noting that the idea behind it was portability and accountability. Now state officials are glad they moved ahead. “It’s expensive,” but “in terms of satisfaction, I think we’d all agree it was well worth it,” deputy commissioner for administration Craig Richards told the magazine.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

1 Comment

  • I’m sorry to have to “somewhat disagree” with Annie’s wording in her posting; particularly when she states that the “…the state has spent heavily on installing it across the seven sites.”. I to am an over 20 year veteran IT consultant; plus a physician, plus a medical informatics fellow from one of the most prestigious organizations in the U.S.A, plus professor of clinical informatics in three (3) of the top universities in the USA, plus have implemented so many EHR’s that have lost count. As a matter of fact, I’m currently supporting a client whose implementing a “cheapo” HIS with EHR, in a single teaching-hospital. The cost..? 6 million dollars spent over 5 years, and the hospital cannot yet comply with Meaningful Use; but will be able to do so by years end after 1 million more in investments.

    I invite anyone who thinks that West Virginia spends a lot of money in their EHR to read the following: http://www.openhealthnews.com/hotnews/mainehealth-facing-financial-debacle-due-proprietary-ehr-install

    Unfortunately, what makes VistA a non-contender in the majority of cases today is:
    – it’s Mumps-roots
    – Lack of human capital in the market that can handle mumps

    Fortunately, the VA began a painstaking process last year to re-write VistA using “More Modern” IT tools (ex. RDBMS, Java, .Net, etc.) which will “break the artificial-barrier” to further VistA adoptions. Also, KEEP IN MIND that VistA is “Free Open Source Software” (FOSS), an issue that is not well taken in the U.S.A., particularly by our “financial mentality”. The USS happens to be the world’s capital of “proprietary IT systems” – a thing of the past in all countries except ours (and we still think we’ve the greatest).

    My take on the cost issue is that it is PURE “FUD”, otherwise known by many names, which I will, with deference to puritanical ears, refer to as “Blahhh, Blahhh, Blahhh”

    José E Piovanetti, MD, MS

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