Triumph of Open Source? : Lessons from VistA

An interesting article in Washington Monthly highlights how VistA achieved its popularity was referred to on the AMIA Clinical Information System LISTSERV by Scot Silverstein.

To my mind, the key elements of VistA’s success are:

  • Participation of clinicians at every stage of its development including their writing of pieces of code and modules
  • Continuous, ongoing evolution and innovation
  • High degree of adaptability to different needs, not in small measure due to its being open source
  • Starting small and growing outwards, organically, rather than with a grand plan in a top-down approach

The bottom line is, Clinical Information Systems belong to clinicians. The sooner the Information Technology finds a way to hand it over to them the better it will be for the clinicians and for healthcare.

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