Open source health IT |

Open source health IT

open source health IT
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Healthcare IT is experiencing a revolution, and open source is driving change across the industry. Fundamental principles underpinning the growth of open source from collaboration and transparency to the community network are rapidly transforming the way we think about about healthcare.

Easier access to self-monitoring through low-cost sensors is just one factor leading the open source future in the health sector. Self-monitoring is making it possible for anyone to record personal health data and to share it with others to mobilize around specific issues. For example, we've seen a community on pool together data about their symptoms and treatments in an effort to crowdsource a cure.

Ubiquitous computing—the idea that powerful computers can be found everywhere, such as in credit cards, cars, coffeemakers, and smart phones—extends the power of a community to collaborate. The data these computers generate can be accessed from anywhere, especially as the software used by these computers is increasingly being offered as a service and hosted in a cloud, greatly reducing the need to obtain software licenses.

These are just a couple of the reasons open source and open source software (OSS) in health care are getting more attention and recognition at important conferences.

OSCON offered its second health track in July 2011 with an impressive lineup featuring myriad efforts representing a host of other reasons open source is driving change. You can read about a session on the University of Chicago's report on open source in health care commissioned by Congress, as well as implementation projects by Roberts-Hoffman and presentations by The CONNECT Gateway and Direct project among many others.

Ohio LinuxFest 2011 is also featuring an expanded medical track this year, hoping to expand on all the ways open source and open source principles can transform the health system. Follow the medical track Friday to hear from noted authors, bloggers, and speakers, such as Susan Rose, Dan Paoletti, and's senior editor Ruth Suehle.

The  Open Source Medical Track will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, September 9.

If you're in the Columbus, OH area, the conference is free for anyone to attend, though its volunteer staff members ask for donations to the 501(c)(3) organization in the form of Supporter or Professional tier passes.

To register, visit
To view the schedule, visit




I can report that the Medical Track at Ohio LinuxFest was a great success. We had great speakers, including Dr. Samuel Bowen who sponsored the project to create the first open source EMR application to be certified by the Federal Government, and Dan Paoletti who presented Ohio's plans for Ohio to be a leader in HIEs. And's own Ruth Suehle took us beyond software to look at openness in other aspects (3D printers making organs!) Increasing the attendance was also a sign of good health.

This was our second time doing the Medical Track, and we are already beginning planning for 2012. I am certain we will build on the success we have had so far. Stay tuned for more information as our plans get made.

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Mariella Castillo

One thing that I'd like to see is more open source communication between fitness devices like heart monitors and various pieces of equipment. For instance, the treadmills at the Spring TX LA Fitness where I work out have the ability to get heart rate monitor info from SOME broadcast chest bands, but not all of them. If there was a universal application in something as small as this x 1000 different applications we would be seeing some more benefit from this technology.

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