FOSS at HIMSS, Dr. Janice Honeyman-Buck

Ignacio invited me to represent LinuxMedNews at this years HIMSS conference. There is a lot of FOSS activity here, we have already been to the first important Open Source focused talk from Janice Honeyman-Buck

The FOSS healthcare community is very small, and we all know tend to know each other. We go to many of the same conferences, we track the same mailing lists (mostly openhealth) and we track the same blogs (you are reading it…). One of the refreshing things about our movement is that once in a while, someone will have the same ideas, for the same reasons and start working without any contact with the blogs and mailinglists that I follow. For me, meeting Dr. Janice Honeyman-Buck was one of those moments. I meet Janice about 30 minutes before her talk and
we immediately hit it off.

She did not discuss her background much at the beginning of the talk, so it was good that I was able to ask her about it beforehand. She started her career as an X-Ray tech, but then went
back to school for her PhD in Computer Science. After she graduated she began working on PACS systems. She moved from there to other kind of medical informatics.

To start her talk, she gave an overview of what Open Source is. Of course for me it is old hat, but she did a good job of informing her large and diverse audience about the basics of Open
Source. She covered the basics, MySQL, Apache, Linux, Firefox. But then she talked about OpenEMR. ( Given the link she used, I do not think she is aware of the trademark rift in that community).

She works with the Society for Imaging Informatics (who also sponsored the talk). They recently released a supplement to their regular journal titled “Open Source Applications for Imaging Informatics in Medicine”, even better, the whole supplement is available without payment under the “open access” program from their publisher. Obviously your blogger was impressed. I have picked up a copy of the journal at the SIIM booth. This is a very thick booklet with lots of detailed information.

From there Dr. Honeyman-Buck covered her use of FOSS in imaging informatics:

In order to search imaging reports, she used the Swish-e search engine to auto-index the imaging data.

She then introduced the IGSTK project: The Image-Guided Surgery Toolkit (IGstk: pronounced IGStick) is a high-level component-based framework providing common functionality for image-guided surgery applications.

Then she introduced Protege which is a system for working with Radiology Ontologies.

She then mentioned the Agfa sponsored DVTK project.DVTk is a software utility that will assist in testing DICOM conformance. DVTk is used to provide an independent measurement of the accuracy of a Product’s DICOM Interface, according to both the DICOM Standard and the Product’s Conformance Statement. Dr. Honeyman-Buck specifically highlighted a useful DICOM sniffer included in DVTk.

Next BRISC was introduced. BRISC is a recursive acronym for BRISC Really IS Cool, and is (convieniently enough) also an anagram of Content-Based Image Retrieval System. BRISC provides a framework for texture feature extraction and similarity comparison of computed tomography (CT) lung nodule images. It was written in C# .NET 2.0 using Visual Studio .NET 2005 and is designed to be functional and extensible.
For the layman BRISC Extracts images of nodules, calculates quantitative descriptors of
each nodule and stores it in an XML-database.
The database can then be used for future nodule comparisons.

Next came CAVASS which stands for: Computer Aided Visualization and Analysis Software System. From the website.. CAVASS is… A major modification of 3DVIEWNIX. A portable, platform independent software system. A parallel implementation of most compute intensive algorithms on a COW (Cluster of Workstations). An easy interface to other systems such as ITK, Matlab, CAD/CAM, and statistical packages. A variety of commonly used image processing, visualization, image analysis, and object manipulation tools. A Sstereoscopic interface.

Lastly, she covered the use of Nagios to monitor clinical IT systems.

Generally, it is amazing what you can learn from someone who is focused on a different area of expertise, but who is still passionate about the potential of Free and Open Source software in medicine. I often give a talk “summarizing” the use of Open Source in healthcare. OpenEMR was the only project that my talk has in common, I was not familiar with any of the other projects. I posted a picture of Janice and I over at

Excellent talk!


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