Digitizing Health Records, Before It Was Cool, New York Times

Colleagues, Please see link below to interesting article in the New York Times on the fast growing EPIC company and its rapidly spreading EHR system, which happens to share a MUMPS lineage with VistA.... Conrad ClyburnCommunity DevelopmentOSEHRA (Open Source EHR Agent), Inc.clyburnc@osehra.org http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/business/epic-systems-digitizing-health-records-before-it-was-cool.html


Epic is a first cousin to VistA

Tom Munnecke's picture

Just for the record, Judy Faulker, founder and CEO of Epic, was very active at the MUMPS Users Groups meetings in the late 1970's.  She was a grad student at the time, and presented her architectural ideas at the meetings.  Here is one of them. http://munnecke.com/blog/?p=906 She was focused on time-oriented data, calling her system PISAR: A Time Oriented Data Management system, and used a data dictionary very similar to the FileMan data dictionary.  She developed a program called Chronicles while the VA folks developed a system called FileMan.

I had been working on a system called LUMPS (Loma Linda University MIIS Programming System) with a couple of other programmers, including Gary DIckenson, who is now a active in the HL7 world.  This was both an exercise in table-driven software (an early data dictionary), as well as a collaboration process between four programmers working off a common set of tools and a "packaging" concept.

Judy went proprietary, the VA gang went Public Domain, and both of these approaches ended up in the PCAST report as examples of successful large scale EHR systems.  The PCAST report suggested greater use of metadata (which was the foundation for both systems), and a "universal health exchange language" which ANS MUMPS was. 

Before folks go off onto multi-gigabuck system architectures, I suggest that they at least collect "lessons learned" from these two stories.