It's a little-known fact, but the health information technology regional extension program was really my idea.
I'm from Indiana, where we do corn and beans right. One reason is Purdue University, which runs our cooperative extension service. Purdue has helped farmers introduce new technology, best practices and workflow improvements for more than a century. Now, it's doing the same for healthcare providers, running Indiana's health IT extension service.
I also worked as a Peace Corps ag extension agent in Africa.
But the health IT extension idea didn't come to me until about 2003 or so, not until I'd visited with Dr. Lewis Coulson, a health IT evangelist and a contributor to the Veterans Affairs Department's VistA electronic health record, at the VA's West Side (now Jesse Brown) Hospital in Chicago. Coulson was so gung-ho, I think he would have run next door to Cook County Hospital and installed VistA there himself—if only the VA would have let him. That's when it occurred to me: We ought to create a health IT extension service to empower folks like Coulson.