The article about my previous research has finally been published in the IMIA Yearbook 2013. It is meant to provide a practitioner’s perspective on the use of medical free/libre and open source software (FLOSS) in clinical routine. In this context I examined and presented the opinions and experiences of chief information officers (CIO) working at larger hospitals. The abstract reads like this:
Objectives: To assess and analyze the attitude of health IT executives towards the utilization of specialized medical Open Source software (OSS) in Germany’s and other European countries’ health care delivery.
Methods: After an initial literature review a field study was carried out based on semi-structured expert interviews. Eight German and 11 other European health IT executives were surveyed. The results were qualitatively analyzed using the grounded theory approach. Identified concepts were reviewed using SWOT analysis.
Results: In total, 13 strengths, 11 weaknesses, 3 opportunities, and 8 threats of the utilization of OSS in a clinical setting could be identified. Additionally, closely related aspects like general software procurement criteria, the overall attitude of health IT executives, users, and management towards OSS and its current and future use could as well be assessed.
Conclusions: Medical OSS is rarely used in health care delivery. In order to capitalize the unique advantages of OSS in a clinical setting, complex requirements need to be addressed. Short-comings of OSS describe an attractive breeding ground for new commercial offerings and services that need yet to be seen.
Schmuhl, H., Heinze, O., & Bergh, B. (2013). Use of Open Source Software in Health Care Delivery – Results of a Qualitative Field Study. Contribution of the EFMI LIFOSS Working Group. Yearbook of medical informatics, 8(1), 107–13.
As you might know Medfloss.org (formerly medfoss.apfelkraut.org) tries to provide a comprehensive and structured overview of Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects for the health care domain.
After the initial launch 6 months ago it recently welcomed the 200th project in its repository: the GPL-licensed iDART software – iDART is the abbreviation of “Intelligent Dispensing of Antiretroviral Treatment” and according to its authors addresses many of the challenges faced by public ART dispensing pharmacies in developing countries.
Starting with originally just 120 projects, the medfloss.org database currently holds:
My cordial thanks goes to all the contributors that already made and hopefully will continue to make use of the open content concept by revising/extending existing information or adding new content!
For more information about the site and its objectives please refer to the mission statement or these slides. Beside amendments to the actual content I also highly appreciate any general feedback about the site, offered functionality and shortcomings of it.
Are you a practice, clinic or any other health care institution that is using medical open source software in daily routine? And wasn’t it quite hard for you to find the right software, to get it up and running and to finally customize it to your needs without having any experienced users or reference sites at hand?
Even a high number of downloads or a strong ‘activity percentile’ of an open source software project doesn’t tell you anything about the suitability for your purposes and in general about the stability and efficiency that are required for successful clinical practice.
But what if you could see on a per-project basis at which site it is already deployed and even whom you could contact and ask for advice and personal experiences?
Medfloss.org (formerly medfoss.apfelkraut.org) should provide a comprehensive and structured overview of Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects for the health care domain. Moreover it should offer a platform to foster the exchange of ideas, knowledge and experiences about these projects.
For details about the offered features and services please refer to the Mission Statement.
Once upon a time SourceForge.net used to be the biggest and most popular platform for Free Open Source Software (FOSS) in the world. Just in the field of medical FOSS they hosted more than 900 projects and in total more than 230,000 projects. People from all around the world could search for projects of interest, collaboratively develop them via the platform, seek for support or just download the source code or precompiled binaries.
It appears really strange to me that they still show phrases like “Find and develop Open Source software” or “SourceForge is your location to download and develop free Open Source software.” on their front page. I am not yet sure if they should add the note “… in case you are from a ‘good’ country” or better remove the term “Open”.
At least it is clear that it is not Open Source anymore what they are doing as they are infringing two of the most crucial principles of the Open Source Definition which read like this:
“5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups: The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.”
“6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor: The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.”
SourceForge seems not to be familiar with these and is blocking users to comply with the US law … and hell yes, the US is the country whose Secretary of State recently gave a widely honored speech about Internet Freedom.
Happily there are dozens of other real FOSS portals/platforms where you can now move to and host your FOSS project while preserving the original idea of Open Source.