Preparing for the VA’s electronic health record system overhaul

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.


Care delivery at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which serves 9 million veterans, will be fascinating to cover in the coming years.

President Donald J. Trump campaigned on the promise to “straighten out the whole situation for our veterans.” Specifically, to reduce wait times to access care and to deliver better and more high-tech services, including telehealth. The VA is among the few federal agencies that would see a funding bump under the president’s budget proposal, with a 6 percent increase proposed.

One of the first big decisions under the new leadership of Secretary David Shulkin will come this summer, when the VA will choose whether to replace its in-house and massive electronic health record (EHR) system, called VistA, with another product.

In a new tip sheet, independent journalist Andis Robeznieks (formerly a reporter at Modern Healthcare magazine) shares the fascinating history of VistA. Robeznieks writes, “VistA was developed in-house by VA software developers with an activist bent.”

Robeznieks lays out the arguments for and against replacing VistA, with passionate advocates on both sides. The decision could have far-reaching consequences for veterans in local communities – and for the president as he is held accountable for his promises of improving care for veterans.

Read the tip sheet here.

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