Archive for the 'Daily Show' Category

Apr 11 2013

Jon Stewart offered Prestigious Unlimited Free Passage on Underground Railroad award


After reading Bob Brewin’s piece Did Jon Stewart Foil the Pentagon’s Health Records Plan? I have decided that Jon Stewart is a worthy recipient of the Unlimited Free Passage on the Underground Railroad certificate.  He understands the problems that the hardhats have been facing in the development of VistA over the years, and also seems to understand the success that it has enjoyed despite the hardships over the years.   I hope that this recognition will help him see some opportunities for improving government, health care, and service to our Veterans.  It is also an amazing story of how a bottom-up, decentralized approach to innovation can work, even in the most hardened bureaucracy.

The VA MUMPS Underground Railroad was formed in the early days of the VistA development in response to the attempts of the centralists to shut down a field-based decentralized approach.  The Hardhats were the technical folk who wrote the code to make it happen, but VistA was always more than just source code, so we needed recognize the many others who were involved in making it a success as described in Phillip Longman’s book Best Care Anywhere and this video. US Medicine editor Nancy Tomich describes the situation.  Nancy and I are now working on the New Health Project to carry things to the next generation.

The Underground Railroad has been struggling to build a common vision of VA/DoD health sharing for decades,   and not without its casualties,  so it is good to finally see some media attention to the issue.

Jon Stewart

This is the most prestigious award offered by the Underground Railroad, having previously been given in 1982 to Chuck Hagel:

Chuck Hagel UFP

In keeping with the Underground Railroad’s history, his certificate can only be given in person, with appropriate ceremonial presence.


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Apr 08 2013

VistA and Chuck Hagel on Daily Show again

Published by under AHLTA,Daily Show,VistA

Jon Stewart talked about VistA again on the Daily Show on Apr 4.  He also talked about Chuck Hagel and the original VistA system, which I first noted in this blog entry.

Unfortunately, he missed the whole part about the success of the Underground Railroad, and how it lead to software innovations that triggered improved health care throughout the VA.

Wake Up, Jon….. there’s lot’s of rocks to be thrown at bureaucracies, but here is a great story of something that worked, but it’s being hidden behind what’s failing.  We have a success story to talk about – let’s use that to improve the situation.



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Mar 28 2013

VistA and AHLTA on the Daily Show

I just watched Jon Stewart’s Daily Show for March 27 and was amazed to see VistA and ALHTA mentioned (starting around minute 7), castigating both the VA and the DoD for their “incompatible” medical record systems.  Since this has been my briar patch for 35 years now, it is amazing to see this play out on national TV.

I had a working VA/DoD medical record system working in 1985:
Tom Munnecke, Ingeborg Kuhn, George Boyden, Beth Teeple showing off the first VA/DoD Health IT interface

It was thoroughly studied by Congress, GAO, VA, and Arthur D. Little consultants, and passed with flying colors (well, except for some of the dirty tricks that DoD pulled, trying to make it look bad).  Here is an oral history interview about the system.

Continue Reading »


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