Sunday, July 15, 2012

VHA & Georgia Tech Collaborating

According to an article appearing in “Georgia Tech Research News”, the Veterans Health Administration’s “Innovation Sandbox Cloud” and Georgia Tech’s Interoperability and Integration Innovation Lab (I3L) are collaborating to develop integrated health IT solutions and test new products. The two organizations have signed a MOU to formally connect innovation facilities and to work together on specific projects.

The agreement also enables both facilities to use VistA to test new products and solutions. Robert Kolodner, M.D., who led the development of VistA during his career at the VA, said, “This collaboration enables decades of health IT advances by VA to be combined with investments by other federal agencies plus other resources from both state and private sectors.”

He continued to say, “The VHA and I3L will create a robust diverse education and simulation environment. It will make it possible to train the health IT workforce necessary to succeed as our national health IT initiatives improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities in the U.S.”

VHA’s “Innovation Sandbox Cloud” serves as a virtual space to facilitate health IT innovation through collaboration and make it possible to develop new ideas, requirements, and products to form solutions within VistA,” said Craig Luigart, Chief Officer at VHA’s Office of Health Information.

Georgia Tech’s I3L was established to stimulate new ideas in health IT by creating a standards-based environment in which resources can be shared, barriers reduced, and new products more rapidly developed.

Beyond addressing existing challenges for the industry, the lab helps academic and nonprofit organizations as well as providers of both commercial and open source products anticipate opportunities that are driving future health IT trends.

“The I3L will help us understand how to create conformance in interoperable systems and how all of the health and medical devices and systems can be tied together to create a seamless view of what is happening to the patient,” said Jeff Evans, Deputy Director of the lab.

Beyond connecting electronic health records systems and helping them to share information, the lab will also link to Gwinnett Technical College’s health IT certificate program to help expand the workforce needed to build and maintain health IT systems. The initiative funded by the U.S. Employment and Training Administration connects students and veterans to state-of-the market training resources.

Georgia Tech’s expertise and experience with interoperability issues in other areas provides a foundation for what it expects to do in healthcare IT. The school’s connections to designers of medical devices, to information security specialists, and to developers of wireless communications systems at Georgia Tech and elsewhere will help develop the future of healthcare information systems.