Open Source Making Headway in Texas

Here’s a Linuxworld article about developments in my own backyard of Texas regarding Texas Senate Bill 1579: ‘In the war between proprietary and free/open-source software in state and local government over the past two years, Texas has established itself as ground zero. Texas Senate Bill 1579, for example, which seeks to ensure that free/open-source software is given a level playing field when competing with proprietary products in state agencies…’

Open Paradigms, LLC announces availability of TORCH version 1.1.0.

Trusted Open source Records for Care & Health (TORCH) Version 1.1.0 is now available. TORCH is an electronic health record application that is GPL licensed and and built upon a completely open source stack. All required components are included in the available download. You can find it on the Open Paradigms, LLC website in the Open Source section. Read on for the full text of the announcement.

TORCH is an electronic health record application that is GPL licensed and and built upon a complete open source stack. The available download includes all required components for installation on a linux, x86 based server. The various components are available for other operating systems but packaging for other OS’s and platforms will be left for the community to produce.

This is a maintenance release that includes better integration with CMFPlone and several bug fixes. The template system and scheduling module remain the same. The decision to retain these modules as is is based on the current functionality in Zope as compared to the vision for Zope3.

With the expected Zope3 (see: ) capabilities along with the pending release of the openEHR specification we have been working towards an application that will be leading edge. It will accomplish this through both foundational application blocks as well as future proofing by the versioned archetype reference model. This is described in detail by the openEHR Foundation ( We expect to release a tested application no later than Q4 – 2003.

We are very excited about the near future. Several years of effort have gone into fulfilling the dream of a true “lego block” approach to open source health care application development, built around a standardized reference model, and using XML-Schema representations. We sincerely thank the openEHR Foundation and Zope Corporation for their comittment to open source and knowledge sharing.

For questions concerning TORCH specifically please contact Tim Cook

Open Source: A New Management Paradigm

The functional significance of “Source Libre” is slowly emerging. This talk makes clear some of its undercurrents and implications, which are not always obvious. Open developers are sometimes so deep in the forest they see mostly the trees; oppenents of Free and Open Source do not understand because it presents a paradigm outside of their (successful) experience, feel threatened, and sometimes deliberately obfuscate or distort its character.

Hitachi Announces Strategic Partnership with Codehost Inc.

SANTA CLARA, CA and CULVER CITY, CA February, 2003 � The Hitachi Internet
Platform Business Unit, a part of Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE: HIT) and Linux software
developer Codehost, Inc. today announced a software development agreement for
wireless tablets running the Linux operating system. Codehost has developed a
handwriting recognition interface for the Linux version of the Hitachi
VisionPlate� Wireless Tablet, providing industries that require mobile computing
a low-cost alternative.

�We are very pleased to be Hitachi Internet Platform Business Unit�s software
development partner�, said Codehost CEO Sam Bizri. �With our experience in Linux
software development, we feel Codehost can be an instrumental partner in
developing applications for a number of vertical markets that improve efficiency
of data collection and processing without affecting the human interaction, in
this case the doctor-patient relationship.�

"We are pleased to be working with Codehost," stated Shigemi Adachi, general
manager of the Hitachi Internet Platform Business Unit. "Codehost�s software
expertise in combination with Hitachi�s experience in wireless products and
solutions will provide exciting out-of-the box solutions for our customers."

This initiative will be focused on industries such as healthcare, allowing
physicians to capture, store and document clinical data at the point of care.
The graphical interface will include a handwriting recognition engine, and will
be integrated with solutions developed by ReCare, the leader in wireless
physician-centric charting systems. The Linux-based VisionPlate� Wireless Tablet
gives IT departments in healthcare facilities and hospitals a low cost,
full-featured solution allowing healthcare providers to capture notation in the
form of digital ink. The handwriting recognition interface provides physicians
the flexibility and intuitiveness of a memo pad in an electronic medical record,
and offers time savings through real-time transcription and transcription

About Hitachi
Hitachi’s Internet Platform Business Unit provides state of the art wireless
solutions in many of today’s vertical markets, such as: healthcare, hospitality,
education, insurance, real estate, heavy manufacturing, retail, transportation,
and government. The flagship solution, the VisionPlate�, is a powerful,
practical, expandable, flexible and intrinsically safe wireless tablet PC that
enables companies to perform critical business practices such as Data Entry and
Processing, Inventory and Receiving, Monitoring and Tracking, Internet, E-Mail
and a host of other functions, all with the unbridled freedom necessary for
today’s fast moving business environment.

Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE: HIT), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a leading global
electronics company, with approximately 320,000 employees worldwide. Fiscal 2001
(ended March 31, 2002) consolidated sales totaled 7,994 billion yen ($60.1
billion). The company offers a wide range of systems, products and services in
market sectors, including information systems, electronic devices, power and
industrial systems, consumer products, materials and financial services. For
more information on Hitachi, please visit the company’s Web site at

About Codehost, Inc.
Codehost is focused on developing custom applications and turnkey solutions for
a variety of hardware manufacturers and Fortune 500 companies. With their
expertise in a number of operating system platforms, hardware architectures,
embedded technologies and peripheral devices, Codehost strives to establish
long-term relationships with OEM’s to support and grow their market share, while
helping them enter emerging market segments.

Codehost has emerged as a leader in key areas of Linux development. Codehost�s
BrightQ� has been adopted as the standard printing solution for UNIX and Linux
by top printing manufacturers such as Ricoh Corporation and Samsung Electronics.
Through their embedded Linux initiatives, Codehost offers its clients a suite of
development services including application and driver development, and OS

More information is available at


Medical Innovation and the GNU GPL

It had never occured to me that Medical Clinicians and Practitioners might see the need to make their own innovations freely available to their colleagues. However, that is the case I am here to discuss today. It does seem that there is still a spirit of community alive within the Medical field. That community desire to share is not so different, nor should it be strange to the hacker community.

Why should it be strange that a sense of the necessity for sharing should be prevalent in other communities beyond the computing and online fields? Sharing, after all, is a human trait.The desire to help a fellow human being, involved in a similar quest, whether for knowledge or simple self-discovery, is natural. However, in the medical field, the quest for knowledge can affect the masses, and can reap beneficial rewards for us all.

I have come across one such example in the Medical community, a person whose name I shall not divulge, simply out of an abundance of caution for their personal privacy. We were chatting by phone, when he asked me a rather interesting question. The question was simple, yet well put, for it is something that I discuss quite often – the spirit of sharing information.

It seems that my friend has designed a rather ingenious method of establshing a display of data which can be shared for the management of research. He has run into a problem, for he would like to see that his team can retain credit for their work (a copyright would seem to do take care of that part), but would also desire to ensure that this work never be made proprietary. It is their desire to ensure that this innovation be able to be shared among the Medical community without being taken by some organization and removed from the public domain where no one can benefit from this innovation.

Needless to say, the suggestion warms my heart, for it makes me understand that there are many who are willing to share information, and are seeking ways to do the greater good for society. I would be remiss in my duty here if I did not say “Bravo!” to my friend, for his bold effort to seek ways to enable the oublic good to be served. After all, can you imagine a world in which research is actually a crime because someone has deemed that they own all rights to a certain organ and or its genetic structure? What would be illegal next? The study of Mathematics or perhaps English? There is a deep injustice done when men are prevented from sharing knowledge to help their fellow man. I applaud he and his team’s efforts to make a difference in society.

My question then to the community (and I am not a lawyer – sorry, no geekspeak here, for I want my friend to know and understand the depth of my gratitude for his
efforts), is this: can the GNU GPL cover such things as Medical innovations in software? Would something of this nature developed in Open Office be able to be copyrighted and protected under the GNU GPL and kept within the public domain?

Perhaps the greatest problem my friend faces is the likelihood that someone would come
along and try to make the innovation a part of a proprietary program and remove all benefit from other researchers. That act would destroy the goals of research, and make a mockery of their effort to share information.

If you can advise, please share your comments. You would be helping not only me, but all of us as well. I would deeply appreciate a well-reasoned response that I can convey. Thank you.

Informatics Review: The Open Source Movement

A sign that things are changing: a substantial article has appeared in The Informatics Review by Linda Wedemeyer, MD. It is a excellent summary of where things are with Free/Open Source Software in Medicine: “…What I learned from the question that I posted to the AMIA list group is that open source for healthcare is a movement in its infancy (Shreeve, 2003). Products have been in the development stage for several years, and it is only recently that real world implementations are occurring. OSCAR (OpenSourceClincalApplicationResource), for example, reports that they have 20 implementations in place. It appears that the size of these implementations includes groups up to about 20 physicians. SQL Clinic (Good, 2003) has been in use at Saint Vincents Catholic Medical Centers of New York, Division of Residential Services, for the past three years. They have a few paying customers…” It also quotes yours truly: “”No one that I know of has direct evidence for economic benefit of FOSS for medicine. There is much indirect evidence in other industries. I am in the planning stages of a study that will attempt to answer your question.”

…I chose to discuss this topic because it is clear that a new approach is needed. Integrated clinical information systems are not widely distributed (van Ginneken, 2002). Attempts to computerize healthcare records have been in progress for many years, yet still very few hospitals in the United States have implemented them. Proponents of open source claim that their approach provides enormous benefits in cost efficiency. We know that we need independence from unstable vendors. Given the enormous cost of these systems, it does not seem reasonable to take the risk that a vendor will go out of business, leaving an institution with a product that can no longer be maintained or upgraded. One of the greatest difficulties that our information technology departments have is that the needed functions simply don’t exist, and adequate usability is very difficult to provide (Ash, 2000). If open source really can provide rapid software evolution, it could be of great benefit to us. Seemingly viable options for support are available, including commercial efforts as well as combinations of in-house staff with the commercial efforts.

OSCAR Workshop June 18-22

David Chan, MD will be holding a workshop on OSCAR, the Open Source Clinical Application Resource. OSCAR is a full-featured Free and open source electronic medical record geared toward family practitioners. Support contracts are available for it. The workshop will be held June 18-22,2003 at McMaster University, 1200 Main St. W., Hamilton, Onbario, Canada. Details can be found here. ‘…Tired of paying high software licensing fees, royalties and lock-in to specific vendors? Learn why this FREE – EMR software is what you have been looking for. Find out why a growing number of large and small offices are using this new, innovative software for their office automation and electronic medical records…’