Roger Baker, Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology for the Department of Veterans Affairs receives his upgraded VIP Underground Railroad Card from Tom Munnecke. Peter L. Levin, Senior Advisor and Chief Technical Officer for the VA, looks on. The VIP card has a 1981-era Motorola 6800 CPU chip laminated over the engine of the railroad. The VIP card is in recognition of his efforts to build on the success of the VIstA tradition, towards the new generation of open source health Information technology.
Off camera was Philip Longman, author of Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care is Better Than Yours describing the organizational transformation that VistA helped trigger.
We discussed the importance of understanding VistA as a community and a broad approach to organizational transformation far beyond just the source code employed in the computer programs, akin to the way that the success of Wikipedia is due to the user community - the underlying programs had only to be "good enough" to build a robust community.
The Underground Railroad celebrates the user-focused, pioneering, grass roots energy and enthusiasm of the thousands of developers, clinical specialists, and users that have contributed so much to the success of VistA. At its peak, VistA had over 50,000 users networked together on FORUM to develop software, exchange tips and tricks, coordinate clinical and subject matter expertise, distribute software, and build the community that transformed the VA's health care system.
The underground railroad holds celebratory banquets; some videos from previous ones can be seen here. Dr. Ross Fletcher, Chief of Staff at the Washington VA, presents his observations on the success of VistA. And here is US Medicine Editor Nancy Tomich describing her insights as a journalist covering the development of VistA.