This is a posting aimed at the growing community of Node.js developers. I want to bring your attention to an industry that is crying out for your skills and expertise: healthcare.
It’s a little-known fact outside of Healthcare IT (and even sometimes within it!) that a significant number of the largest and most important applications that are used to run, manage and maintain healthcare throughout the world use a poorly-known and understood technology called Mumps. Of these, probably the most interesting is VistA, a massive and very capable Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR), developed by the US Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA). Not only is VistA used to manage the healthcare needs of over 8 million US veterans and their families across the USA, it’s also available as an Open Source EHR, and is increasingly being adopted by hospitals in the USA. It’s also being deployed internationally, eg in Jordan and India, and a campaign in the UK is proposing its adoption there. A recent research paper by Herbsleb, Muller-Birn and Towne provides a very comprrehensive background to VistA and its ecosystem of users and developers. The VA have created a custodial agent named OSEHRA to oversee the governance of VistA within the Open Source arena.
Whilst this might all sound very impressive, there’s a problem: a ticking time-bomb that threatens this huge legacy of important software. The problem is that the number of people who understand the Mumps technology is dwindling. Within the VistA community, OSEHRA has been running initiatives to train new developers in Mumps as an attempt to address this situation, but retention rates are proving to be extremely low. The bottom line is that the Mumps development community is losing more developers than it is gaining and the problem will inevitably become critical.
I’ve been fighting a rear-guard action to try to reconcile this situation for some time. I believe the solution is in the hands of you, the Node.js community.
To that end, I’ve recently written three part series of articles that lay out a strategy for the future of Mumps (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). It’s what I’m hoping is the first salvo: a first step to engage the minds of the Node.js community and draw their attention to what is, to the Mumps community a growing risk and danger, but which, to the Node.js community, can be seen as a huge opportunity.