MUMPS (M) Compiler and Interpreter GPL’ed

Kevin O’Kane, PhD wrote in with the news that a MUMPS (M) compiler and interpreter C source code are now available under the GPL on his web site. This removes a major obstacle for adoption and use of Veterans Administration VistA project medical software code. Pro’s and Con’s of VistA were discussed recently on LinuxMedNews and a comment at the time was: ‘…An open
source entry into VistA would be considered a major event in medical computing.’

Mozilla Milestone 18 Available

Updated: Michelle Head has an interview with Mitchell Baker, a Mozilla manager. has released Milestone 18 of its long-awaited open source web browser. Relase notes say that Java should now work. The production version of the browser is scheduled for release this December-January. This key piece of software will be incorporated into Eazel’s Nautilus file manager, Netscape’s 6.0 browser and will be available to become an integral part of future open source medical software. Seeks Rational Doctor/Patient Relationship has an intriguing idea: ‘…a systematic approach to defining the fundamental elements of the
health care contract. By this, we mean creating agreement about the essential elements that make the health care
relationship work: who’s doing what, and how are we steering the treatment ship…
There exists between doctors and patients certain identifiable patterns of misunderstandings
which generate unrealistic expectations, adversity and litigation.

The remedy for these misunderstandings is role clarification and collaborative

ZDnet: Open source could save UK’s NHS

ZDnet UK quotes LinuxMedNews contributor Douglas Carnall, and ‘Exeter-based general
practitioner (GP) Adrian Midgley’ in an article about possible solutions to the UK’s National Health Service current financial difficulties: ‘…Free software concepts make particular sense in medicine…Once a
customer is ‘locked into’ proprietary software, its makers can demand premium prices, safe in the knowledge that the client
would find it even more expensive to change. Much better instead
to invest time on a system licensed under the General Public
Licence that will always be free…’

LinuxPlanet: Review SuSE 7.0

LinuxPlanet reviews the SuSE 7.0 distribution of Linux in this article. ‘…SuSE Linux 7.0, the latest offering from the Germany-based SuSE GmbH, comes in two distinct
offerings–Personal and Professional–as well as an Upgrade version for current SuSE users….[Personal] is definitely a platform aimed at the home or office user who has minimum Linux experience.’

‘…When the 7.0 software was released in late
August, they sold 84,000 units directly to customers on the very first day, which sold out the product. Over the course of the next month, they sold another 40,000 units. SuSE’s success is also blazingly clear according to an independent survey of software sold in Germany that included games and utilities as well as operating systems and productivity
apps. In that survey, Wiegand said, SuSE Linux Professional was ranked number one and SuSE Linux Personal was
number three (Norton AntiVirus for Windows was number two).’

‘…Installation of the Personal edition is touted to be less than 20 minutes, and my number was close: 24 minutes
installing the Default with Office option, which is a base install along with StarOffice 5.2.’

A Truly Open Letter to the AMA

Dear American Medical Association,

This is your future speaking.

My, my but medicine has grown big and truly complicated. The future is at stake and what’s the common denominator? The MBA’s have moved in permanently, quality control matters and it is time to lead.

Think of a doctor as farmer with a digging stick. Think of a farmer with a plow. Think of a farmer with a combine. Think of a farmer with a combine, accountant, marketing and meteorology expert all in one. Think software.

We are somewhere in the digging stick–plow range in our communications efficiency and ability to produce. The reach of a practitioner is painfully limited and becoming more limited each time form A76-B is created by a beaureaucrat and slid in front of a practitioners face. Not that documentation is bad. But in an end-to-end medical software world, it needn’t be so time-consuming, repetitive or onerous. It should allow the practitioner to master the task, not the task to master the practitioner and provide greatly improved quality control at the same time.

The past is littered with a multitude of medical software failures. The present is punctuated with practitioners ready to take the plunge to make ‘the’ software that will take the profession by storm and make its developers a bajillion dollars. Software that never seems to materialize, or whose small market and incompatible software is jealously guarded by the company that wrote it.

It is chaos. It is crisis. Out of crisis is born opportunity. And the government, with HIPAA, is ever ready to step into the opportunity to clean up a mess that the profession should have cleaned up long ago. More importantly the profession still can.

The future calls. Opportunity knocks. The song of hope sings: free and open source medical software may become abundant in the near future and has the best 1, 2, 3 chance for making the reach of medicine exceed its grasp. It simply requires leadership in the form of funding, acceptance and widespread advocacy of these efforts. The seeds of the future are sown, but it won’t change overnight. Generational change is what’s occurring. Over and over again the free and open way has succeeded in the past. While closed-source efforts have yielded fragmentation, non-existence, or expensive failure.

Ever heard of the Internet, TCP/IP, Apache, Linux and scores of others? Ever heard of GNUmed, FreePM, FreeMed, Tk_familypractice, OIO, MDSchedule, LinuDent and many others? You may soon. The most important question to you the AMA is: When? When will the profession stop reacting and take the future into its own hands? When will it unite and play what could be its strongest card: open source software.

RedHerring: Internet Will Transform the Industry…Maybe

The Internet will transform the industry eventually, but it’s a tough one to wring a profit from. Says an article in Red Herring magazine’s October issue in a special report on healthcare IT. The article doesn’t fall prey to rosy predictions of computers in healthcare: ‘…e-health
companies point out that Internet-based software is finally a way to get [doctors] all connected
to insurers, labs, and each other at a relatively low cost. But with such small practices, most
doctors don’t have IT or finance managers evaluating potential cost savings. And the
doctors themselves, as a rule, focus almost wholly on treating patients, as all their education
and training has prepared them to do, rather than on running a business.’
An interesting statistic is that health care budgets 2 to 3 percent of
its budget to IT, compared with between 5 and 10 percent for other industries. Thanks to Yves Paindeveine for this link.

LinuxPlanet: KDE2

LinuxPlanet has a review of the just released production version of the KDE2 desktop software. The article goes in depth as to how it differs from KDE 1.0, how to get and install the software as well as problems and future. ‘…The underlying architecture has been improved everywhere and completely changed where needed. The whole thing is object oriented, so that in one application you will find things that are familiar to you from other applications — greatly reducing the learning curve…Bottom line: KDE2 and Linux are together a Windows killer if ever there was one.’ KDE’s main competitor is Gnome and OpenOffice formerly StarOffice.

LinuxMedNews Adds E-mail Notification

In a continuing effort to keep the growing open source medical software movement equipped with all necessary software tools, LinuxMedNews has recently activated e-mail notification of replies posted to the site. Authors and commentators can now receive e-mail notification if someone has replied to their views or discussion. Simply check the ‘Reply Notification’ box on submissions and you will notified of replies.