Skip to main content

A History of the Electronic Health Record

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going


Research begins on the Electronic Health Record (EHR). Early in the 1970s, the National Center for Health Services Research and Development, a component of the U.S. Public Health Service, began planning for development of what would become Electronic Health Records (EHR).


MUMPS Developed. VA Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System (MUMPS), a precursor to VistA, developed by the Computer Assisted System Staff (CASS) Team.


Open Source begins with VistA. In the early 1980s, VA made its software available without restriction in the public domain to other government and private sector organizations, in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. VA recognized this opportunity to support widespread EHR adoption and offered use of VistA as the standard-bearer for EHR implementation around the world.

June 1981

MUMPS becomes VistA. In June 1981, VA MUMPS was renamed the Decentralized Hospital Computer Program (DHCP), and VA Administrator Robert Nimmo joined Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery to establish DHCP as VA's Medical Information System Development Program to formalize its organization and management.

July 1990

VistA Imaging becomes operational. VistA, VA's first image management system, provided VA physicians with immediate access to patient medical images, regardless of location. VistA first became operational at the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center (VAMC) to manage radiologic, pathology, gastroenterology, and laparoscopic images, as well as electrocardiograms.


60% patient chart availability. In 1995, patient charts were available only 60 percent of the time at VA facility patient encounters. Currently, patient records are available in electronic form at nearly 100 percent of patient encounters across VA facilities.

March 2003

World VistA formed. Following VistA's implementation, many VistA professionals banded together in a community to develop a standard knowledge base for VistA development.

October 2004

BHIE enables two-way data exchange between VA and DoD. The Bidirectional Health Information Exchange (BHIE) program enabled the real-time, two-way data exchange for shared patients between VA and DoD. In addition to expanding beneficiary coverage, BHIE added significant capability, including the ability to view inpatient and outpatient notes, among many others.

July 2013

JLV developed. Tripler Army Medical Center and VA Pacific Islands Health Care System partnered to develop the Joint Legacy Viewer (JLV), a web application that provides a common view of patients' health information from VA and DoD EHRs.

December 2013

VistA Evolution launched. VistA Evolution Program, a partnership effort to modernize VistA, launches with a goal of providing essential health information technology to Veterans and clinicians and allows Veterans to have a seamless access to their health record.

September 2014

JLV deployed to all VAMCs. JLV allows the user to configure displays to support various workflows. JLV maps data to standard national codes in seven clinical domains, making it easier to compare data between systems, understand trends, and develop a more complete picture of a patient's history.

October 2014

VistA migration completed. VA successfully completes VistA migrations to 25 data centers.

June 2017

VA Secretary announced decision on next-generation electronic health record. VA announced it will adopt the same EHR system as DoD, now known as MHS GENESIS, which at its core consists of Cerner Millennium®.

May 2018

VA signed a contract with Cerner to modernize the VA’s health care IT system.

July 2018

VA established OEHRM to Support Transition from VistA. OEHRM will manage the preparation, deployment and maintenance of VA’s new electronic health-care record system and the health IT tools dependent upon it.

October 2018

VA kicks off initial operating capability of the new EHR at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, and WCPAC in Las Vegas.

Page last updated on August 4, 2020