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 'antiquated' vs 'proven' 

(1439 Reads) Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2007 - 01:18 PM
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VistA has its problems. I am pretty often frustrated with WorldVistA an organization that has great intentions who moves too slowly for my preference. Not to mention the companies that I regularly harass for trying to proprietarize VistA.

And those are just the problems within the community. As for the technology, VistA has no installer to speak of, it is written in an obscure (tho-powerful) language, and its documentation is largely out of data and inscrutable.

Despite these problems VistA is clearly the most powerful and feature complete hospital EHR available. While I welcome intelligent and informed debate on VistA I am frustrated by FUD that is typified by this comment to Modern Healthcare by Marlon Williams titled Antiquated system slowing EHR transformation. Which, from what I can tell, makes the argument that VistA should be abandoned because its "old". Thankfully Modern Healthcare has also published my reply VistA: You say 'antiquated' I say 'proven' Since Modern Healthcare links tend to fade over time, I have included both the original comment and my response after the gap, for posterity.

-FT Original Post:
In response to Joseph Conn's "VistA: A look back and a look forward":

It seems as if everyone's objective is to deceive physicians into thinking a "free" electronic health record is available. As I've mentioned before, the introduction of WorldVistA was a terrible decision that is only confusing the market. A lot of people are wasting their time and efforts on a system that is as antiquated as the first PC.

The laggards are finally catching up to the fact that transformation is necessary. Unfortunately, they are stuck on 20-year-old technology.

Marlon Williams

President and chief executive officer
Miami Lakes, Fla.

My Reply:
In response to a reader's comments on Joseph Conn's "VistA : A look back and a look forward":

It is a common American obsession that "new" implies "better." Every day, most of the world's Internet users search on Google for information. Google's services are powered by massive clusters of GNU/Linux systems. GNU/Linux is the latest version of 30-year-old technology called Unix. Of course, while GNU/Linux shares many aspects of the operating system first released 30 years ago, the capabilities of the new system are vastly improved. Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA, today has similarly eclipsed its 30-year-old predecessor.

VistA is the most-studied, most-verified and most-used EHR system in the world. There are significant problems with VistA software: It is difficult to install, it is written in an obscure language, and it is designed with only the VA's needs in mind. But, the fact that it has been steadily improving over 30 years is a good thing. The VistA community dealt with issues during the '80s that the typical proprietary company will face five years from now. Unless you understand VistA you are doomed to repeat it.

You say "antiquated;" I say "proven."

Fred Trotter




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