TRN: Tool turns English to code

A really interesting tool that turns English sentences into code has been developed. Technology Research News has the story. ‘…Metafor organizes a natural-language description of a program into the skeleton of a program by mapping the inherent structure of English — parts of speech, syntax, and subject-verb-object roles — into a basic programmatic structure of class objects, properties, functions, and if-then rules, said Liu.

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Pharmaceutical Services Company Goes Linux

Newsforge has an article on a pharmaceutical services company that has gone to Linux: ‘…When Siler looked at the potential financial impact and the eight-month timeline involved in setting up and getting trained with Oracle or another big company and compared it with the 60-day setup and greatly reduced license fees associated with Gluecode’s product running on Red Hat Linux, he was easily able to convince his superiors that open source was the way to go.

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Whos Who discuss FOSS in Medicine at PC Forum

Here is a summary of a healthcare panel that discussed Free and Open Source Software in medicine at the 2005 PC Forum: ‘… Larry Augustin, CEO of Medsphere, [as well as being founder of Sourceforge and on the board of OSDL] believes that open source software will play a key role in solving the healthcare dilemma. His company wants to be the Red Hat of healthcare, and has ported software originally from the Veterans Affairs Admininstration to Linux. He said that the vast majority of hospitals can’t afford the high-end proprietary system, and that open source will change the economics.

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Linux/WebSphere at UNC Chapel Hill

Enterprise Linux has an article about UNC Chapel Hill using Linux and IBM’s Websphere (community site here) to discover drugs: ‘… with a staff that fluctuates between 12 and 15 graduate students, technicians and professors, time is almost as valuable as the drugs waiting to be discovered..Until IBM WebSphere and Linux came along 16 months ago, those cumbersome tasks were conducted manually by one of the graduate students attending the school. “We went with grid computing on Linux because a lot of the grid managers are all designed for the Linux system,” said Scott Olosof, a graduate student at the UNC School of Pharmacy…’

Call for contribution to libre software for scientific research topic of LSM 2005

Call for contributions for the Libre Software scientific research topic at the international free software conference Libre Software Meeting (LSM) 2005, July 5th to 9th, Dijon, France.

Software for research in epidemiology, statistics or any other research topics are welcome.

A broader topic for medecine is also scheduled at the same conference. Details can be found here.

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WP: Cedars-Sinai Doctors Cling to Pen and Paper

The Washington Post has an article on how Cedars-Sinai reverted to pen and paper after an electronic medical record deployment misfire and is now a ‘cautionary tale’. This is worth reading with all of the attention and money these systems are getting. Note the $35 million dollar price tag with nothing to show for it: ‘…For every doctor, nurse and executive here, there is a different explanation of what went wrong. The technology, created in-house, was clunky and slow. Only a fraction of the 2,000 doctors with privileges at the hospital were involved in developing the system, even though they faced a dramatic change in the way they practiced medicine, from jotting notes on a clipboard to logging onto a computer to type in their treatment and medication orders. Training was insufficient, and administrators opted for what Hackmeyer called a “big bang” implementation rather than switching one ward at a time…’

Commentary on AMIA’s response to CPOE controversy

Update: The authors opinions on the JAMA CPOE article at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia made it into Health-IT World: The article is here (second story down). Editor’s note: Dr. Silverstein is responding to a research article in the Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA which concluded that a Computerized Patient Order Entry (CPOE) system called TDS, now obsolete, made some medication prescribing errors more frequent. A reasonable assessment of the recent CPOE controversy was made by Don Detmer, MD, the President and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association. He writes that healthcare IT is of great value, is moving forward, and that those in clinical IT need to rigorously assess issues and problems and correct them iteratively, as in any evolving field. He is confident that AMIA and its researchers, clinicians, and educators are committed to these objectives and will continue to raise the performance bar for clinical IT. I heartily agree. However, other topics such as IT project leadership need to be addressed as well. I’ve put my commentary on this topic here. has been revamped

Editor’s note: FreeB is a project to implement medical billing with Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) licenses. has been revamped. Since I did not want to have only one post saying “the site has been revamped” I decided to repost signifigant moments in FreeB history. Pretty much everything from official release to the latest discussion on LinuxMedNews is there.

Fred Trotter

NYTM: The Quality Cure?

NYT Magazine has an in-depth article on different ways of looking at health care reform that take into account that rising health costs also yield more health benefits. Health-IT is mentioned starting on page 6: ‘…Many doctors still write prescriptions and keep records manually, and Cutler says that digitizing the health-care system would save considerable administrative expense and improve quality. It would minimize prescription errors, speed paperwork and make a patient’s medical history portable. But the big kick is what information technology could do for the doctor’s understanding of his own performance.

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Congress May Cut VA Tech Budget is reporting: ‘The House Veterans Affairs Committee is recommending a $400 million cut in the proposed information technology budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal 2006…The committee pointed to the failure of a $372 million financial management project called CoreFLS in Bay Pines, Fla., as an example of the VA�s technology problems… Thanks to Nancy Anthracite for this link.