Multinational Collaboration Promotes Use of Open-Source Software in Health IT Projects

In an iHealthBeat Special Report, experts on open-source software discussed the next steps for Open Health Tools, an initiative designed to encourage the use of the software and promote interoperability in health care.
The Special Report includes comments from:


  • Richard Li, product marketing director for health care for Red Hat, an open source provider;


  • Skip McGaughey, chair of Open Health Tools;
  • Ken Rubin, chair of the Healthcare Services Specification Project; and
  • Walter Sujansky, a health care informatics and software development consultant.Open-source communities allow their members to view, use and modify computer source codes. Open Health Tools’ collaborators hope to develop a set of tools for enabling health IT infrastructure, allowing vendors to drop the infrastructure into their products.

    The project involves governmental agencies and private organizations in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, including:


  • The U.S. Veterans Administration;
  • Health Level Seven;
  • The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization; and
  • The Object Management Group.Sujansky said the quality of developers involved is promising but added that open-source communities face several challenges, including dependence on voluntary efforts, a noncommercial nature and potential for incompatibility problems as projects diverge from the original source (Rebillot, iHealthBeat, 4/21).

    See video here

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