How Data And Communities Are Changing Health Care

Mike O'Neill | Open Source Delivers | August 21, 2012

...Data informs and drives innovation. In health care, data is changing the model of care our clinicians provide, helping them push improvements as rapidly as they can. The data we capture in VistA provides insight into the best methods of care for Veterans and their families. Data is driving how VA does a better job of outreach to Veterans in rural areas. It’s helping us adapt the health care system to deal with patients with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, things occurring at higher rates given our engagements overseas. The data we’re capturing will enable us to envision and create new models of engagement with patients.

How we’re thinking about data is helping us achieve a broader goal:  determining how to allow enhancements developed anywhere in the healthcare marketplace to be contributed to and to be widely shared. This requires the kind of collaboration that is commonplace in the OSS community. It’s helping VA to create a super community via OSEHRA, the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent. OSEHRA’s mission is to accelerate innovation in electronic health record software and related technology, which is something that spans company boundaries, as well as government and private sector boundaries, to the benefit of all.

The open source model is tremendously powerful, and it’s something VA understood when it created VistA. The next chapter will see the user-driven super community, OSEHRA, powered by data and the OSS ethos, helping to transform how VA delivers care. OSEHRA is hosting its first annual Open Source EHR Summit and Workshop on October 17th and 18th to give government officials and open source experts an opportunity to collaborate and to accelerate innovation in health IT.