Burlington Hospital to Acquire Costly Proprietary EHR System

It was disturbing to read an article earlier this week in The Boston Globe about a Burlington hospital that intends to implement an electronic health record (EHR) system that will cost over $160 million. Apparently, the Lahey Health plans to spend over $170 million on its hospital facilities, with a new $162 million electronic medical records system as the centerpiece. MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, issued the $130 million tax exempt bond to assist Lahey Hospital & Medical Center with their plans.

It was astounding to see a hospital spending $162 million for an EHR system when there are  high quality 'open source' EHR systems for hospitals that cost about 25% of that amount to implement such as the VA VistA System or one of its derivatives, e.g. vxVistA, OpenVistA, RPMS, WorldVistA. Take a look at the article on "VistA & Open Source EHRs in New York & New England".

Did the CEO, CFO, Board of Directors, or the state even consider the open source VistA system as an alternative solution. This award winning solution is up and running successfully  in over 1600 hospitals and clinics across the country. See the most recent map of all VistA installations across the U.S. and around the world. In West Virginia alone, they implemented VistA in seven state hospitals for $10 million. Spending $160 million for one hospital is mind boggling.

For those industry consultants who allign themselves with the large proprietary vendors of EHR systems, any mention of the VistA system or related open source EHR systems is shunned. Yet amazingly, in this year's report on "Health Care's Most Wired Hospitals", the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) integrated healthcare system has been named to the 2013 ‘Most Wired’ hospitals list — an event that marks the first time that all VA medical centers nationwide have achieved the honor. The VA integrated health care system is composed of more than 150 hospitals, 850 clinics, and 140 nursing homes. 

In a press release, Dr. Robert Petzel, Undersecretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said,  “VA is honored to have its integrated health care system on the ‘Most Wired’ hospitals list for the first time ever.”  With this designation, for the first time, all VA medical centers nationwide were named to the 2013 “Most Wired” list. The VA's use of the VistA EHR system, the My HealtheVet PHR system, Blue Button technology, and Telehealth solutions were all mentioned as contributing to the award. 

The "Most Wired"  list is the result of a national survey aimed at ranking hospitals that are leveraging healthcare information technology (HIT) in new and innovative ways. The annual survey is released by Hospitals & Health Networks, in partnership with McKesson, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the American Hospital Association.