Ace reporter Shirley, my Dachsund, recently returned from a vacation in England with many things to report. She unloaded her bags, took off her sunglasses and settled in on the comfortable couch. “There rumors are that ‘the majors’ are talking about FOSS’ing their code.” she said with her slight German accent.
The ‘majors’ as she said it are the larger proprietary electronic medical record companies. Only none of them are really major since there are hundreds of competitors that are stuck at approximately 20-30% market share. “Tell me more” I replied.
“At least one (Misys) is talking about going all the way because growth is flat and they don’t see how to solve all the ‘Other vendor’ problems any other way.” she said, stretched out on the couch paws in the air.
“I thought HL7 was going to solve all those ‘other vendor’ problems.”
“Ah my naive owner, while HL7 is useful for some things, it has been called ‘the full employment policy for proprietary vendors.’ because it is very easy to be not quite compatible or almost compatible with the ‘other vendors’. Let’s face it, all the vendors want to exclude each other and that’s one way to do it.” she said then added: “Can I have a treat now?”
“So they might give up the proprietary stuff?”
“Who knows? But if one does it, they may all do it. Caveat emptor.”
I rubbed her luxurious ears a moment and said “Gesundheit. Why the caveat emptor?”
“Because anyone can call something ‘open source’ when it really isn’t. You have to know what the licensing terms are and if there is any key parts that will remain proprietary. The good licenses are those that are endorsed by the Free Software Foundation. Otherwise you can’t be sure what you are getting.”
“Did you learn all of this on your trip?” I asked.
“I tried to get away from a keyboard as much as possible. Driving on the wrong side of the road was fun.”