SMART Enabling VistA Home Page

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Project Background and Overview

SMART (Substitutable Medical Apps, Re-usable Technology) is an initiative from Harvard Medical School ( that provides a unified mechanism for diverse applications to interact with medical record data. SMART Applications (Apps) built against the SMART API can be embedded within any SMART Container. A SMART Container is, most often, an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system used by physicians, but might also be a Personal Health Record (PHR) used by patients, or a data-analytics platform used by researchers. A SMART App is a normal web application, embedded as a frame within the SMART Container's user interface, with access to the SMART API for interacting with health data.

During the period of March to May, 2012 a prototype Smart Container for VistA was developed by the team of George Lilly, CIO of WorldVistA and Rob Tweed, the creator of EWD, and Joseph Del Molin of eCology who provided project coordination. The work was done in collaboration with the Harvard Smart Project with funding from the ONC via the Harvard Smart project. The project objective was to demonstrate that a Smart Container for VistA was feasible and to gauge the level of effort to create one. Also, to provide a public demonstration of the VistA Smart Container and publicly available source code and servers that would allow developers to create Smart Applications using VistA. The VistA Smart Container was demonstrated at the June 5, 2012 VistA Community Meeting at George Mason University. Since then, it has been demonstrated at several other forums, including NHS Hack day in England and at the Seattle VistA Expo in September. Further demonstrations are planned.

Project Documentation and Presentations

Harvard, ITdotHealth Meeting Presentation, July 5th 2012

A video of the presentation which gives a quick summary of the project can be found by going to time point 1:07:10 at the following link in the section labelled SMART-Enabled Platforms, moderated by David Kreda:

Software Downloads

The software has been released publicly under a GPL version 2 or greater license and can be found on the WorldVistA trac server at this address

The VistA Smart Container has also been included fully configured in the latest dEWDrop 3 virtual machine, which allows developers to use it right away without the effort of installation and configuration. The dEWDrop virtual machine can be downloaded free of charge from the Fourth Watch Software website at this address:

Relevant Links

The Harvard SMART initiative home page:

SMART related journal publications:

Kohane, I. S., and Mandl, K. D. Escaping the EHR Trap — The Future of Health IT . N Engl J Med 2012 Jun 14;366(24):2240-2. PDF

Mandl KD, Mandel JC, Murphy SN, Bernstam EV, Ramoni RL, Kreda DA, McCoy JM, Adida B, Kohane IS. The SMART Platform: early experience enabling substitutable applications for electronic health records. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2012 Jul-Aug;19(4):597-603. PDF