A year has passed already since LinuxMedNews opened March 30th, 2000. Happy Birthday. 263 articles have appeared in that time and the site has been featured on LinuxToday, Newsforge, LinuxNews.com and Slashdot.org. It has also been linked by numerous other sites. There has been good articles and cruddy articles. There has been spirited debates such as that on the VistA project which even attracted the attention of the patriarch of free software Richard M. Stallman. The future direction of LinuxMedNews will be examined in the near future, particularly whether it should become ‘less fun’ and ‘more serious’. LinuxMedNews also needs to find a revenue stream which was a near miss before the Linuxgruven.com melt-down. Fortunately, LMN is in this for the long-haul. In the meantime, some things have changed in one year of free and open medical software, many things haven’t.
At the time of LMN’s debut, the Nasdaq was flying high, Linux was a buzzword, a rebel. Linux in medicine was more of an idea than a reality. In one year, the concrete results of that idea are beginning to surface. Many of the free and open source medical projects are beginning to blossom although actual deployments seem to be rare. Synergies such as between the OIO, FreePM, Tkfamily practice, MedMapper and GEHR projects have appeared which lends credence to the open source argument that cooperation is a by-product of the free and open source process.
That cooperation will be what sets free and open source medical software apart and ensure its success. It stands in sharp contrast to closed-source in which proprietary software has led to large-scale incompatibilities and market fragmentation.
Still, for all the gains in medical open source in the last year, a viable clinical platform remains in the future. Some are related to Linux itself, namely the lack of a good browser, lack of widespread use of anti-aliased fonts and relative dearth of business applications. December of 2001 will be the month to watch for all of these things.
Despite this, medicine remains largely un-computerized with estimates that only 5% of practices are computerized in a meaningful way. Opportunities for medical open source are still abundant, but that may change. You can be sure that LinuxMedNews will be covering it. See you next year.