Vote for the Open Source idea

A National Dialogue is a site for proposing and commenting on ideas in Health IT created by the National Academy of Public Administration. (amoung others) The site is only open for a few days, if you have something to say (at least to this audience), now is the time.

I have already put forward the basic thesis of Insist on Open Source in Health IT that most LinuxMedNews sympathizers will agree with. The site is only open for comment for a few days. Please help me to get this message to the important organizations who are listening!

Fred Trotter

Government Open Source Software Collaboratives debated at GOSCON

On October 22, government and private industry experts will debate the issues and opportunities presented by collaborative software development models at the Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) Portland, Oregon. The distinguished panelists have direct experience with successful public/private consortiums based on the open source software model in which developers as well as business and technical users collaborate to create new applications while sharing both the costs and the benefits.

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Presidential Politics: $50 Billion for What Health IT?

The Obama campaign is promising to spend $10 billion per year for 5 years to spur adoption of health information technology. However, they give no specifics as to what the money will be spent on. The McCain campaign has similar goals but similarly does not put forward any specifics or dollar amounts. In the absence of specifics other than spending $50 billion over 5 years, let’s analyze that $50 billion expenditure.

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VistA Menu Commands Map

Kevin Toppenberg’s VistA Menu Map can be found here and it is spectacular in how much it has. Everything for running a national hospital system including all the software to run a hospital cafeteria and dietetics service to a library. The amount of software is simply breathtaking. From the page: “A note of explaination about this file:
The VistA system is menu driven. There are over 9,000 separate options that could be directly called. Obviously this is too many to make any sense of. This document is a printout of all these options, organized into menus, as found in VistA. I created this file because I wanted a way of looking at the “forest” as well as the individual “trees”. I hope it helps someone…”

Wifi Security Vulnerabilities

I thought the medical community should be alerted to a critical security issue regarding the use of WiFi wireless systems secured using WPA and WPA2 encryption schemes. The folks over at Elcomsoft (known for breaking the encryption on Adobe PDF files) have developed a technique to break WiFi WPA/WPA2 encryption. You can buy their “password recovery” software now and enough details are present in the wild that I would expect a very short period of time before this attack is common place. People using our web-based ClearHealth & WebVista systems typically use HTTPS and so would not need to worry about insecure wireless links. However our experience is that many users have the same password for multiple services and so something like email could leak a password shared in common with a healthcare system. Non web-based systems that don’t have their own secure encryption should not be used with WiFi. I think many VistA implementations fall in to this category though you are likely OK if using a VPN as well as WPA/WPA2. I would be very concerned about devices like the iPhone, Tablets, Blackberries and other mobility as a lot of those default to HTTP for web based systems. Just thought that everyone should be aware that WiFi links cannot be trusted in and of themselves.

Multi-Head, Multi-User Killer GNU/Linux App Languishes

The year of the GNU/Linux desktop has been always right around the corner for many years now. Many have been looking for the ‘killer application’ that can only be had on GNU/Linux and that will spur widespread adoption of Linux on the desktop. While fast-booting Splashtop desktops look promising, one killer application boldly going where Windows cannot go is languishing. That killer application is…

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Open Source Software Workshop OSEHC 2009

Open source software is thought to be one of the driving forces in overcoming the fragmentation in the health IT market. However, barriers like lack of long-term professional support [editor’s note: this may be universal for all health IT] or uncertainty of cost saving capability hinders open source software to gain a reasonable market share. The workshop “Open Source in European Health Care” is conceptualized as a forum where existing open source projects or initiatives are invited to present their work or their experiences in the field of open source in health care. Submissions from all over the world including position papers are highly welcome.

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The GAO report on VistA modernization and required organizational issues for success

The latest GAO report on VistA modernisation efforts ca be found here.

There has been much discussion in the Open Source health world about the VA reorganization. While many feel the centralization of development will stifle the innovation that created VistA, the current report cites the need to fix organizational leadership and project management gaps as key issues throttling VistA upgrades and modernization. This report can be an interesting focal point for discussion on the proposed upgrades as well as the implications for OpenVistA.