One of the most unique and promising projects in the history of medicine is going on right now. No, I’m not talking about the Human Genome Project, I’m talking about Freemed and other Open Source clinical software projects.
Freemed was begun in 1999 with the goal of providing fully capable medical record and office software that is web-enabled and free. It uses the ‘Open Source’ model of software in which the software programs which comprise Freemed are open to all to fix, modify and extend. It is only in its infancy, but has made tremendous strides in its short life. It can be obtained with only a few mouse clicks on the Internet at http://freemed.org
Freemed is tremendously important to medicine. Why? Among the many reasons is that if successful, much of the power that is wielded by large organizations such as insurance companies, government and HMO’s that conspire to make patients, small clinics and individual practitioners comparatively less powerful will be swept away. It will enable massive collaboration among all health care entities so that small and individual practices will have the same powerful software tools for patient care that large organizations have with minimal cost.
It will remove the fragmented, winner-take-all landscape that now exists among medical software vendors as well as end the era in which most packages are incompatible, very expensive and force practitioners to be at the mercy of one vendor.
Freemed will also avoid the 30 year old problem of no one company or product being able to satisfy the enormous engineering effort and functionality required in medical computing.
It can end the high cost of software failures and duplication of engineering effort that ultimately everyone pays for.
It is the only real answer to the problem of medical computing.