There are open source projects at are focused around the health care industry such as Mirth Connect and OpenEMR. These are very mature products. I have played with both in fact I have implemented mirth at a company I once worked for and have recommended it in the company I’m currently working for as a replacement for SeeBeyond. For some reason there should me more competing projects. We need more EMR/EHR systems and more projects that can deal with HL7 and X12.
There are a lot of propriety products out there but I feel that the open source community can do much better and I feel can make the software do much more then the current leading proprietary products. I work with software that uses a lot of open source components but the software itself is proprietary but I the company I work for would just open source it. Most of the money made on he product is on support or on professional services. This is a product that makes total since to open source and let the community help develop it. Community help equals free development and free QA.
So why are there more open source projects based around health care? The health care industry doesn’t know why open source is. So many of them are suck in the stone age of paper or line feed files from mainframes. Most are vendor locked in and can’t change the way they do business.
How can this change? There needs to be a company the comes in and totally shakes up the industry like Red Hat and SUSE did to propriety Unix systems and Windows. This company should show the health care industry the value of free and open source software and why it should adapt to the open source philosophy.
I have been involved in Health Care IT technologies for most of my career and all I can say is that IT in health care needs to change and quite frankly go open source or at least get on better standards. Claims are not standardized, some come in as paper claims using standard mail, some come in using scanned paper claims in a PDF or TIFF format via e-mail or some sort of file transfer such as FTP, SFTP or HTTP. Claims that come in that were processed electronically and not on paper come in as XML files or X12 files. If they come in as X12 it was generally line fed by a mainframe from 20 years ago. Eventually everything gets converted into an electronic date interchange format (X12) and processed. First my question is why doesn’t the health care industry just force everyone to electronic based claims and have everything come in as X12 in the first place so you don’t have to convert image files into electronic claims or convert XML to X12.
Standards need to be forced in the Health Care industry to lower costs. In my opinion, this can be done with open source solutions or at the very least open standards in side some sort of propriety software. The health care industry needs just work together and create standards and get out of technology that is over twenty years old to reduce costs and help innovate the industry in terms of IT.