Munnecke to Reveal the Secrets to the Success of VistA

Our readers will have a unique and extraordinary opportunity tomorrow, May 10th, to participate in a webinar where Tom Munnecke, one of the pioneers of VistA and one of the world's leading experts in health information technology, will discuss the key factors that led to the success of the VA's VistA. Today VistA is recognized as the world's best hospital-based EHR. 

Munnecke will be presenting at the weekly vxJourney webinar hosted by Fabian Lopez. The webinar is sponsored by DSS, Inc. as part of their contribution to the open source community. 

Munnecke, one of the original pioneers of VistA will discuss the key events that led to the creation of VistA in 1978 and its evolution since then. He will examine the key factors that led to the success of VistA, the "secret sauce," so to speak. He will then examine how we might extend VistA's future evolution. 

In Munnecke's own words, "in my foray into humanitarian applications of technology, I learned about a approach called 'Positive deviance.'  Basically, it consists of observing what is working in a giving situation, and then doing more of it.  Simple, but effective. Applying this to VistA and the future of Health IT, the question becomes, 'what worked in VistA?'  and 'How do we do more of it?' Munnecke adds that "in the webinar, I'll talk a bit about some lessons learned in reviewing the VA Loma Linda/March AFB test, and then open things up for an interactive discussion."

Munnecke, who currently has his own rather fascinating blog, Tom Munnecke's Eclectica, has also started blogging for Open Health News. His blog in OHNews is Notes From the Underground Railroad.

Munnecke was one of the original developers of VistA in 1978 and one of the founding members of the "Underground Railroad" community in the VA that developed VistA and is also a founding member of the "Hardhats." Munnecke was active in the early development of there core technologies underlying VistA, including FileMan, MailMan, the Kernel, as well as the VA/DoD interface project. In addition he was "Chief of Conceptual Integrity of the Underground Railroad."

Munnecke left the VA in 1986 when he went to work at SAIC in La Jolla, California where he was active in the project to port DHCP (the VistA core) to the the Department of Defense's Composite Health Care System (CHCS). Munnecke left SAIC in 2002 as a Vice President and Chief Scientist to pursue broader business and philanthropic activities.  

He was active in the early days of microcomputers and the development of the World Wide Web. He was a freelance writer for Popular Mechanics and Byte magazines, as well as co-founder of a short lived German computer magazine, Elcomp. He wrote a book, Der Freundliche Computer, in German, and met Bill Gates just after he left Harvard, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniak the day they announced the Apple II in 1977. At the VistAEXPO conference last year Munnecke, an amateur photographer, showed some of his personal pictures of the young Steve Jobs. Turns out these are some of the best early pictures of Jobs in existence and have appeared in virtually all major news publications in the past year.

In recent years, Munnecke has consulted internationally on hospital computer systems in France, Spain, Finland, Japan, Australia, Nigeria, England, and Germany, and has given keynote addresses, television and radio interviews in dozens of countries.  He was asked to testify at the US Senate Hearing on the Future of Health IT,  and was interviewed as one of the Pew Foundation Internet Visionaries for an oral history of the Internet.  He was a visiting scholar and fellow at Stanford’s Digital Visions Program.

Munnecke was one of the first to write about Personal Health Records, and co-authored (with Dr. Robert Kolodner) the opening chapter to Person-Centered Health Records: Towards Health ePeople.  He has written many other papers on the future of Health IT.  He has also made a series of videos about the history of VistA.

The webinar tomorrow promises to be an extraordinary opportunity to hear from one of the key founding figures in the field.