Article 100: A LinuxMedNews Retrospective

On this occasion, the 100th article posted to the LinuxMedNews site, let us recount highlights of LinuxMedNews short history through a best of LinuxMedNews retrospective. These are what I consider to be the best articles of the past 5 months and the more noteworthy events in the sites history. If you are new to this and would like to know where we’ve been, here you go…

March 30th, 2000 LinuxMedNews opens ‘…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.’ an anonymous reader writes: ‘about freakin’ time!’ 500 people visit in the first few days. 1st article posted was Total Redesign…

April 3rd, Jim Intriglia, aka Captain Fantastic posts his first article

April 8th, LinuxMedNews Open Source Medical Software Project list began with 18 projects listed.

April 15th Closed Source Medical Software Poses Unacceptable Risk

April 16th Netscape Navigator Stability Considered Key in which Jim Intriglia and I took on one of the biggest roadblock to success.

April 21st Will Vendors of Medical Software Taste Forbidden Fruit?

May 2nd, First noted that no open source medical palm apps exist. And still don’t.

May 5th, Guatemalan Hospital to Run Linux Live travelog from one of the most amazing two weeks of my life. LinuxMedNews covered for the first time by another news organization.

July 5th, LinuxMedNews makes it on to major search engines at and, LinuxMedNews-Announce newsletter begins.

August 6th, with Beyond This Horizon LMN went on the offensive after a month of doldrums.

August 14th, Jim Intriglia finds a nugget of gold with a Health Informatics article that finally put numbers on Health IT failures after I predicted it several months before. Massively Expensive IT Failures

August 16th, Newsforge interview begins a trend of other news sites taking notice of LMN

August 24th, Win4Lin review hits the streets ultimately ending up on Slashdot.

Sept 4th, LMN project list updated with the previous 18 projects now numbering 41 a 100+% increase in 5 months. Other news sites carry the story.

Sept 6th, mentions ‘Linux Medical News’ August 24th Win4Lin review. 25,000 new visitors come to the site in one week.

Sept 12th, 100th article posted to

Go Wireless Young Man/Woman

Jim Intriglia noted this article on the Health Management Technology website that describes reasons why health IT is not moving quickly, why it should move faster and why it should go wireless. ‘…Hertz car rental employees can pull up driver information and car rental information in the parking lot…isn’t it ironic that healthcare professionals don’t use these same technologies to save lives and prevent medical errors?
Patient care at the bedside hasn’t changed much since the days of Florence Nightingale.’

13-11 courtesy of Jefferson Hopkins

13. If it gets something on it, we can’t autoclave it!

12. The computer doesn’t address me as “Doctor”.

11. Risk carpal-tunnel syndrome with these hands?

10. I’m too BUSY to learn how to use computers.

9. Design committee input: Can you make that thingie on the
screen blink?’

8. Voice recognition, now THAT will be something.

7. My time is too valuable, why don’t we hire someone?

6. We’ll have that feature in the NEXT version.

5. Remember what a disaster the last one was?

4. I can work faster with my pen.

3. I won’t be able to interact with my patient if I have this
THING on my desk.

2. You want a drug and drug interaction database? That’ll COST

1. What? They want to turn me into a TYPIST!

Additions are welcome.

3rd Year Medical Students Use Handhelds

Jim Intriglia reports on a Zdnet article about a project at Wake Forest University to use networked PDA’s that allows 3rd Year medical students to gather and use patient data. While the article claims that they are using ‘networked PDA’s’, in reality they can only be synchronized on a network. The article highlights some of the problems with the approach, most notably security and the next step which is to have wireless PDA’s: “We need heavy encryption for patient confidentiality. Without that, we won’t do it,” While a much needed start, all of the failures of closed-source medical software are still present: fragmentation, and lack of intraoperability. Put another way: What happens after the students graduate and go to an environment that does not have the system?

FDA Approval of Medical Software?

I read a report recently about the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) project involving the development of a regulatory scheme which may place computerized patient medical records systems, as well as the ancillary computerized medical devices that provide automated data collection, under the FDA’s scrutiny. The impact of such regulations being enacted is obvious. Critical time-to-market software development metrics would increase significantly, as would the cost of developing ‘free’ and Open Source software-based medical technologies such as diagnostic decision-support systems and computerized medical records systems.
Draft Revision of FDA’s Medical Device Software Policy Raises Warning Flags is a dated but comprehensive article that provides more background on this issue: ‘…Unless industry gets involved now, complex and prohibitive regulation looms on the horizon.’

How Linux Will Unify Medical Education and Practice

I’ve posted the presentation slides used for the 9/2/00 talk at Houston Linux User’s Group entitled ‘How Linux Will Unify Medical Education and Practice’. There are three versions, the high-bandwidth one consisting of slide images, the low-bandwidth one which is left justified text only and the StarImpress 5.2 whole file download. This is being released under the GNU Free Documentation Public License. Comments, additions and corrections are welcome as I plan to give this talk again.

‘The Future of Free Software in Health Care’

Health Informatics Europe has an article by a LinuxMedNews contributor Douglas Carnall who has another comprehensive article about free software in medicine. There is something in it for everyone, from those new to the notion of free software in medicine to those who wish to be able to answer questions about it in a well-reasoned manner. …When users are reluctant or unable to change their software without considerable organisational upheaval they are said to be “locked-in” and are at the mercy of their suppliers, who are the richest men on the earth today…free software offers the potential to build a networked suite of tools of the doctors’ own choosing to make that job much more satisfying and rich. ‘ For a more day in the life view, there is a recent LMN article Beyond This Horizon.

OIO Bursts Onto The Scene

There’s a new kid in town that is currently burning up listserv airways at and Open Infrastructure for Outcomes (OIO) is a Zope based ‘…way to share the “tools” used to collect and analyze data while allowing individual investigators/clinicians to have full control over their data. No agreement to share anything or give anything to anyone else is required. Hence to
term “Open” applies to the infrastructure – not data…’
OIO also has a
CVS repository on sourceforge. Project developer Andrew Po-Jung Ho writes: ‘The OIO has been in production at Harbor-UCLA
Medical Center in clinical/research projects for about 6 months. It was released to the public just a few days ago. Brian Bray was
just telling me how his DocScope and OIO
have very similar aims. We may be able to work
together to advance these common aims…’
Other synergies with other projects seem possible as well.