On this occasion of Thanksgiving I would like to say 27,000 thank you’s to Linux Medical News readers, contributors and supporters. 27,000 is exactly how many unique visitors this site received last week. I’m astonished, honored and grateful that the world appears to be taking notice of the possibilities of Free and Open Source Software in medicine.
Ignacio Valdes, MD, MS
Editor: Linux Medical News
p.s. for once I am putting my degrees in because I’m tired of being mistaken for the ‘other’ doctor with the same name on Google that is not a Psychiatrist 🙂
The 2003 Linux Medical News Achievement Award will be presented at 5:30 pm on Monday, November 10th at the American Medical Informatics Association Fall conference at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington D.C. It will be held at the Open Source poster presentations in the exhibit hall, across from poster #48. Note that this is not an officially sponsored AMIA event (although they are supportive of it). Congratulations to all of the worthy nominees:
Thomas Beale of the OpenEHR foundation.
David Kibbe, MD of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
Dr. Stanley Saiki, Jr. Director of the Pacific Telehealth and Technology Hui
I have been a watcher and participant of computing in general and medical software in particular for many years. A hobby of mine is trying to spot trends before they happen. I called the Gigabit ethernet card trend to some friends a few weeks before John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine did. Not wanting to hide under a bushel basket with my prognostications, I give you The Terabyte Conjecture. The conjecture states that when terabyte disk spaces become easily available to the average user, medical computing will fundamentally change.
With 250 megabyte disk drives available on pricewatch for only $230, the time is not far off when a terabyte (1024 gigabyte) single disk drive will be available and cheap. This has several implications.
One is the ability to hold an entire physicians career of patients on one disk. If a patient requires, on average, 40 megabytes of disk space for each patient then a terabyte disk can hold approximately 26,000 complete patient records.
Training, outcomes and feed back for the clinician could be radically changed by this. If a clinician wanted to review some crucial cases in their training, cases from which they truly learned, they can. Currently that information is usually lost after medical school or residency.
Many types of personal analyses of patient data can occur. If a clinician wanted to know how many cases with a certain diagnosis they had seen, or how many cases they gave a certain medication to over the years and what happened, once again, they can. Many point-of-care outcomes data become possible. All of which hold the possibility of improving something that is frequently lacking in medicine: feedback to the clinician on how well treatments work.
Things could get interesting once terabytes of disk space are easily available to clinicians. Can you think of any more implications for medicine?
The inside scoop: the Houston Veterans Administration hospital has changed its intranet portal two weeks ago to the Free and Open Source Plone software running on ZOPE. I’m not sure I’m allowed to post a screenshot since it is on the intranet.
Linux Medical News is 3 years old now. In its first week, 300 visitors came. It now averages 7000 per week and has 594 posted articles to date. Its original mission: ‘…to facilitate, amplify and begin the process of fundamentally changing medical education and practice into a more effective, fair and humane enterprise using modern technologies…’ is as necessary, vital and relevant today as it was 3 years ago. Perhaps more so since medical computing as a whole has changed little in 3 years. However, medical open source has progressed greatly since then, with its first shipping products in the last 6 months as well as major medical organizations beginning to study it. Medicine takes at least 10 years to change so 7 years are left, by Linux Medical News’ clock, until free and open source software in medicine is ubiquitous. My deepest thanks to all Linux Medical News supporters over the years.