Practical Technology

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Obama, open source & healthcare

Linux-based and open-source healthcare software has been around for years. Unless you were in health IT, however, chances are you never even heard of it. It’s time to pay attention, because it may soon be tracking your medical records.

With the passage of ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), $19-billion dollars has been ear-marked for Medicare and Medicaid technology incentives over the next five years. Collectively, this program is known as HITECH. If open-source, medical software advocates have their way, some, if not most, of that money will be going to free software and open standard based EHR (electronic health records).

The most important of the open-source EHR systems are the ones built on VistA (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture), the US Veterans Administration’s public domain EHR. Don’t let the name fool you. VistA has nothing to do with Microsoft Vista. The core, open-source VistA code is called WorldVista.

Like Linux with Canonical and Novell, WorldVista has been commercialized by ISVs (independent software vendors). The best known of these suites is Medsphere’s OpenVista.

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