Opensource Software in Health Care Symposium

Updated again 5/3/04 — that’s May, not March and that’s Tuesday morning May 11th 🙂 On Tuesday morning May 11/2004 opensource developers and enthusiasts in health care will convene at the University of Toronto for a 1/2 day workshop on Opensource Systems in Health Care. The workshop is part of a 3-day conference entitled Opensource and Free Software: Concepts, Controversies and Solutions presented by the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University.

An announcement of the pending opensource release of ePresence, a webcasting utility developed at the KMDI is expected at the conference

The Opensource in Health Care workshop features Dr. Yuri Quintana, Dr. David Chan, Mr. Joseph Dal Molin, Dr. Khaled El Emam, Mr. Robin Carriere and Dr. David Ryan. The workshop themes will include history of opensource in health care, opensource software systems in primary care, opensource and regulatory agencies, issues in the international deployment of opensource and opensource from a Canadian CIO perspective.

Open Steps – open source and health informatics thinktank report now available

The report of the Open Steps thinktank meeting of February 2004, held at the Marwell Hotel, Winchester, UK is now available via the website of the Open Source Health Informatics Working Group of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA OSWG), at

We welcome input from all in the health and health informatics communities interested in free, libre and open source software, including GNU/Linux.
There is a Wiki available at courtesy of Dr Adrian Midgley, or responses can be sent by email to

Dr Peter J. Murray
Project Leader, Open Steps
Co-chair, IMIA OSWG �
Chair, IMIA-NI Open Source Nursing Informatics Working Group �

The main purpose of the Marwell Open Steps meeting was

– to identify key issues, opportunities, obstacles, areas of work and research that may be needed, and other relevant aspects, around the potential for using open source software, solutions and approaches within health care, and in particular within health informatics, in the UK and Europe.

Three quarters of participants described their ‘ideal vision for the future use of software in healthcare’ as containing at least a significant percentage of Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS), with nearly one third wanting to see it ‘entirely open source’.

The emergence of a situation wherein FLOSS could interface with proprietary software within the healthcare domain was seen to be achievable and desirable, and also likely if the right drivers were put in place and barriers addressed. Participants felt that the strongest drivers were:

� adoption and use of the right standards;
� the development of a FLOSS ‘killer application’;
� a political mandate towards the use of FLOSS; and
� producing positive case studies comparing financial benefits of FLOSS budget reductions.

The Marwell event was the first in a series of meetings planned by the IMIA OSWG and held in conjunction with the British Computer Society Health Informatics Committee and other groups. Most participants were from the UK, although others were from The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Belgium and North America.

Participants rated the most important issues why people do and might use FLOSS within the health domain as quality, stability and robustness of software and data, as well as long-term availability of important health data through not being locked up in proprietary systems that do not allow interoperability and data migration. They felt that the two most important areas for FLOSS activity by IMIA OSWG and other FLOSS groups were ‘political’ activity and work on raising awareness among healthcare workers and the wider public.

‘The aim of the Marwell meeting was to identify the issues, not necessarily answer them’ said Dr Peter Murray, the Open Steps project leader. ‘We hope to see wide discussion within the health informatics and open source communities. We know there will be other issues that some will see as more important � we welcome constructive dialogue and hope that many groups will work together to build on what is a small first step.’

The Marwell Open Steps meeting was organised and supported by the following organisations:
�IMIA Open Source Working Group (IMIA OSWG �
�British Computer Society Health Informatics Committee (BCS HIC �
�IMIA Special Interest Group on Nursing Informatics, Open Source Nursing Informatics Working Group (IMIA-NI OSNI �
�Open Source Health Care Alliance (OSHCA �
�Peak Performance (

For further information:

– see the website for the report in html, pdf and versions –
– direct link at

– email

President Bush: EMR in 10 Years

President Bush has announced the goal of ubiquitous electronic medical records in 10 years: “On the research side, we’re the best — we’re coming up with more innovative ways to saves lives and to treat patients,” Bush said. “But when you think about the providers’ side, we’re kind of still in the buggy era.” The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) had this reply from AMIA president Charles Safran.

Palm Med References on Linux device?!

HI, I have been fascinated with sharp SCL 860 PDA which is a linux based machine. The problem is that most popular references are created for Palm devices. Is any way to use available references for Palm on a sharp device? I know an emulator exists but it is too slow. So the options are either to run those programs on a website and then access the website wirelessly or to have a reader on the PDA that can read text designed for palm device. Any ideas or suggestions?! Thanks Al

UK Joins Zope Juggernaut

The particularly well-suited for medicine Z Object Publishing Environment (ZOPE) now has a high level presence in the UK according to this article in Linux Insider: ‘UK Web developers are throwing their weight behind Zope, an open source application server already popular in the US and Europe, but which has yet to crack Britain.
On 19 April, commercial Zope vendors will join forces to launch the Zope Association, which aims to promote open source technology in general and Zope as a development tool. The forum will launch in the House of Commons, with founding members including UK commercial organisations that already use Zope…’

Medical Billers Network Scam Responses

The primary mission of this website is Free and Open Source software in medicine news. But, we noticed a number of article replies to a story of Medical Claims Clearinghouses saying that Medical Billers Network is a scam. After we posted the story entitled “MedicalBillersNetwork Scam?” The number of responses from people who believe that they have been scammed has been amazing. Click the link to the original article above and read the discussion threads to read their stories.

Foundation for eHealth Initiative Launches Online Community Learning Network and Resource Center.

Foundation for eHealth Initiative has launched a Online Community Learning Network and Resource Center This will Spur Electronic Health Information Exchange Efforts. Read more for the full press release.

Washington, D.C., April 7 � Responding to an urgent national need for practical information on how to modernize the U.S. healthcare system through the use of information technology so that patients can get better treatment, the Foundation for eHealth Initiative today launched the Community Learning Network, a key part of its Connecting Communities for Better Health Program. It is the first-ever consolidated online resource providing all community stakeholders interested in electronic health information exchange with guidance on how to plan and implement the organizational, clinical, financial, legal and technical strategies to mobilize healthcare information across organizations to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare.

More from the April 7th Press Release-

Star: OSS can figure largely in healthcare systems

Great article in the Star about the eHealth Asia conference and OSS. The article quotes from Rick Marshall and Dr. Molly Cheah: “Studies have shown that about 85% of software development projects fail due to late completion, cost overruns and non-delivery of all promised features,” said Marshall. “However VistA succeeded in becoming the largest hospital management system in the world. It is currently used by over 10,000 users in hospitals and clinics worldwide, including 170 veterans hospitals,”