Feature: Medical Projects at O’Reilly Open Source Convention

Several open source medical projects where discussed at the recent O’Reilly Open Source Convention in Monterey, California, July 17-20. Highlights were demos and secure architecture information on the GNUMed project by Horst Herb M.D. and David Guest M.D. from Australia as well as TK_familypractice from California with its XML based clinical modules and data mining which was represented by myself. Read on for a summary of the convention.

Dr. Horst Herb had a state of the project for GNUMed, saying that the GUI interface is designed and the overall program architecture is established. At present Herb and his team of developers are using Interbase and are working on a very sophisticated intermediate level server to provide encryption as well as other services necessary to ensure privacy and data integrity for patients as well as provide medico-legal protection. Complete logging of every transaction is being provided to ensure the highest level of data security, a foremost goal of the project. Dr. Herb educated the open source programmers in
attendance about the special needs in the medical information technology environment and is actively recruiting programming talent internationally for the project. He outlined his projected timetable for development. The complete elimination of paper
in the medical practice environment is the eventual goal as well as providing better quality records for both patient and provider.

A BOF (Birds of a Feather) session was held on Wedsday evening attended by a small but well focused group of attendees. Some were physicians but some were programmers from organizations in the medical field (Kaiser) as well as business representatives of some health related companies (Merck) which was encouraging.

Tkfp was demonstrated successfully on the O’Reilly RedHat 6.2 conference room computer after being downloaded off the net about an hour before the session and installed using it’s built-in install script. It ran right out of the box and was able to show prescription writing and display functions and demographic information manager that are all XML based, as well as the HTML (soon to be XML) based progress note generation features. The drug interaction scripts
that data-mined the Dr. Koop, PlanetRx and Medical Letter web sites for drug interactions was demonstrated. One of the attendees had worked on
the Dr. Koop site and commented that Dr. Koop’s developers would be “quite taken aback” (or maybe it was “appalled”) that it was being used in
that way, although he seemed to agree it was a cool idea. The MedMapper clinical decision making algorithms that integrate into the chart notes
were also shown.

Bernard Glassman M.D. of of the National Cancer Institute and Linda Lamb from O’Reilly headed a BOF session on Monday night about their ideas for patient-centric internet interfaces so patients and their families can
access appropriate information on their condition from reliable medical sources. The emphasis was on obtaining treatment protocol information
on cancer, but the ideas could be widely applied in the medical world. Lamb pointed out that O’Reilly publishes a line of patient guides
on various medical topics and is very interested in the medical world, as well as being the premier supporter of open source software in the
publishing world. Is there a possiblity of some connections being made there?

We were also able to get in some plugs for the other open source projects including – Arachne Circare Docscope EHCR Freemed FreePM GEHR
LAMDI LinuDent Littlefish Telemed OpenGalen OSHCA Prorec qRx Quick Quack Medical Manager STAR VistAXML Medical Dict.

Hopefully some of the open source coding talent attending the conference became more aware
of these projects and the opportunity to work on them with us in the medical world.

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