Editorial: RHIO’s and the Illusion of Health IT Success

(Slightly updated: 12/12/05) Does it bother anyone that for years, Health Information Technology (IT) successes implied by the news and even in casual conversation may largely be an illusion? Does it bother anyone that Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO)’s might be failing at a very high rate? It is important to ask the question given the United States rich history of failure and two notable successes with large scale Health IT.

For example, the announcement of a hospital going ‘all digital’ or rollout of a multi-million dollar record system makes great press releases but is it actually working years after the parade is over?

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Call for Papers: Use of OSS and ODF

CALL FOR PAPERS The Use of OSS and ODF in Health and Medical Systems Jun 22-23, 2006, Salt Lake City, Utah Special Track at the 19th IEEE International Symposium on Computer-Based Medical Systems

The support of Open Source Software (OSS) and Open Document Formats (ODF) in academic, governmental and business organizations has been continuously increasing over the last couple of years. However, the acceptance in the healthcare community is still low and adoption slow. This is often caused by misconceptions about OSS and ODF in relation to important issues such as software reliability and support, data security and legal liability. Healthcare IT solutions are available under OSS and ODF licenses, including Lab and EHR appliations, for small, medium and large clinical institutions.

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Eben Moglen’s Plone Conference Address

This is a must listen too video keynote address to the 2006 Seattle Plone Conference by the Free Software Foundation’s Eben Moglen: ‘…Software can prevent software from being owned. Software itself can lift the software tax. That’s where we are at this moment. On that cusp. In this neighborhood, at this moment, the richest and most deeply funded monopoly in the history of the world is beginning to fail…the very engineering limits of trying to make software that you own work as well as software that the community produces are becoming apparent…’

Free Software Magazine Interviews Fred Trotter

Free software magazine has an in-depth interview with Fred Trotter about the Medsphere saga, including comments by Richard Stallman: ‘…Medsphere is treated with the kind of respect that you would expect the top FOSS medical software company to receive. In reality, the top medical FOSS company is probably Uversa with their ClearHealth project (Note: Uversa is a friendly competitor of mine). Medsphere does not even warrant the title of �top VistA company�. Blue Cliff is a good example of a company that has a good reputation within the community, but gets far less attention than Medsphere. There are many other FOSS medical companies out there all of whom have contributed more than Medsphere. Yet Medsphere dominates the placement in the mainstream press, probably because they have received considerable funding…’

Open Reply to Medsphere

Recently Ken Kizer wrote an “open letter to Medsphere employees“. It appears that this is the only public response that the company has given in response to my critisms that Medsphere has betrayed the community

I have written an open reply to Medsphere regarding this issue. From the my letter:

..releasing such a (open source) policy now is equivalent to saying “This is what we wish we had said when you first asked us what our position was. Please ignore what we actually said and accept this as our position retro-actively.”

Fred Trotter

Grass Roots Strategy

Government leader has an article with much praise for the Veterans Affairs VistA EMR and its grass roots approach to software: ‘…Destination VistA. The VA program �is a model for modern health management,� said Stephen Shortell, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley. �It is where the rest of the U.S health system needs to go in terms of widespread use of electronic information technology.�

VA credits VistA with helping it achieve a number of goals, including lower costs, better care, fewer errors, fewer hospitalizations, and promotion of preventive care. Patients� waiting times have declined, and access to care has increased because of online availability of health information…’

PR: WebReach, Inc. Launches New Line of Health Information Network Appliances based on Open-Source Mirth HL7 Engine

Press Release: WebReach, Inc. Announces Mirth Enterprise(TM) and Mirth Pico(TM) appliances based on Open Source Mirth HL7 middleware, deliver simplified, black-box data exchange at Dramatically Reduced Cost.

WebReach, Inc., a leading creator of open source Healthcare Information Technology solutions, today announced the launch of a new line of Health Information Network Appliances(tm) running the Mirth open source software, and backed by a full range of support and deployment services. Mirth products and services allow healthcare organizations and solutions developers to achieve interoperability with existing networks at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional health information interface solutions.

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Registration Open for 14th VistA Community Meeting, Gaithersburg MD

K.S. Bhaskar writes: As you may be aware, the next VistA Community Meeting will be at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, USA, Tuesday through Thursday, January 9-11, 2007. We hope that you will
be able to attend. The URL for registration for those who are not WorldVistA members is here and you will need to login to SPORG with a SPORG username to complete the registration. There is a separate registration URL for WorldVistA members, who receive a reduced rate…Please note: you must be registered in advance to enter NIST. Unlike
prior VistA Community Meetings, NIST security procedures do not allow
for walk in registration at this meeting.’