Here's a video of me at the NHS Hackday in London a couple of months ago. I was hanging with Rob Tweed, undoubtedly the most interesting and forward thinking man in Mumps. And the man behind EWD, which puts Mumps into the enterprise and behind an array of extremely trendy modern web-based front ends.
Our team's project, (entirely based on Rob's work, with data wrangling from Chris), was to pull NHS data into a Semantic Web format where it could be queried with SPARQL and shown in a variety of widgets from the MIT SMART platform for healthcare records.
Robb has big ambitions. In a world where healthcare IT and patient records are a scandalous litany of expensive, failed and cancelled projects wasting millions of dollars, Mumps based VistA is fast, solid (with 40 years of development behind it), and free (as in speech) software. Thanks to Rob and SMART it can start to present its data through standardized HTML5 apps that are as slick and up-to-date as anyone else's. And Rob has plans to make the whole thing available as single downloadable virtual machine. (I think, in VirtualBox format.)
To repeat, that's the equivalent of a £12 billion system (except ... er ... working) as a free download. That's the virtue of free software, folks.
(Of course, yes there is still a huge installation, training, integration cost involved in putting a system like this in place, but if you start with something that a) exists and is b) free then you might actually get some kind of result for your 12 billion.)
Update : Why is this surprising? Well, partly because I'm kind of out of the Mumps world at the moment, and went along to the NHS hackday without any thought Rob would be there or that I'd end up in the Mumps team. But I've been a fan of his work so it was great to meet him. Also, I'm a SemWeb sceptic, so I have no idea what I'm doing in a project which is about using RDF and SPARQL as its standard file-format, the way SMART does. :-)