Medsphere Systems Markets Open Source Electronic Health Records System

4/6/10

Experts agree that electronic medical records can lower costs and improve care. Yet just 10 percent of U.S. hospitals keep any computerized records, according to a survey in the New England Journal of Medicine last year. The biggest reason is cost: depending on the size of the hospital, the price of a digitized record system can run from $20 million to $100 million.

Carlsbad, CA-based Medsphere Systems is marketing what it bills as a cost-effective solution. The company has taken the electronic medical record system developed by the Veterans Health Administration and adapted it for commercial use.

Developed over two decades with more than $8 billion from taxpayers, the source code for the VA system is in the public domain. This means software developers and startups like Medsphere are free to use and modify the code known as the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VISTA. (The acronym is sometimes confused with Microsft’s unrelated Vista operating system.)

Rick Jung

Rick Jung

Medsphere Chief Operating Office Rick Jung says the private, venture-backed company offers its version of the software, called OpenVista, on a subscription basis, which minimizes the upfront costs for hospitals and healthcare facilities. The system manages clinical and health information, laboratory tests, pharmacy, radiology, and nutrition and food service applications. In exchange, Medsphere provides OpenVista subscribers regular software updates, maintenance, and technical support. Customers also get tools that connect OpenVista to legacy systems that handle specific functions, like billing.

OpenVista also is available without a paid subscription for users to install and operate on their own enterprise networks, without support from … Next Page »

Denise Gellene is a former Los Angeles Times science writer and regular contributor to Xconomy. You can reach her at dgellene@xconomy.com Follow @

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  • http://www.webkass.com/ KASS Inc.

    Even with Open-Source software, physicians need guidance in setting up and using these Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems in compliance with the law. It always comes down to people – people using software well or poorly, people who are good with open-source technology and those who aren’t. Physicians and office managers need a partner, whether using open source or more commercial packages.