Health of the Source


The top project in interoperability, by a wide margin, is the Mirth project, developed and supported by WebReach. At this point, Mirth is the primer project within the health FOSS community. I am struggling to find people who are not currently aware of the system. It has wide adoption abroad, as well as a solid US user base. Mirth works so well, and is so easy to use that it will be an important part of legitimizing the entire health FOSS movement. WebReach has been a diligent and capable steward of the project, they are well-worth hiring to get a fast introduction or full support services. Even if you decide to pay WebReach, your solution is likely to be a fraction of the cost of a proprietary interoperability system.

Part of the surge forward in Mirth is due to the astute moves from Misys. Misys released its “Connect” tool in such a fashion that is was essentially a massive contribution to Mirth. That decision indicates that Misys understands the implications of competing projects in a developer-hungry space. It is also a decision that requires a considerable amount of humility. (favoring “built-here” solutions is a deep sickness in Health IT).

Further, when Misys was criticized for a premature announcement, Tim responded, openly and in the same forum. Tim’s response was clear, simple and in it he admitted that Misys would be pursing a hybrid open-source/proprietary strategy. While purists like myself certainly wish he would go “all the way”, the fact that he is being straight-forward and transparent earn him a tremendous amount of respect from the at-large community.

These were not the only excellent decisions from Tim Elwell at Misys. Another really good decision he made was hiring Ryan Bloom, an open source hacker with tremendous credibility from the Apache project. I do not know what Misys has planned next, but if they continue to make the quality of decisions that they are now, they will soon be a dominant player in open source. They are putting themselves in a position to use open source as a launch point for long term dominance in the entire EHR industry. It is amazing to see this level of sophistication coming from a company that large.

Other important efforts are essentially under wraps. Harris corporation won a government contract to develop NHIN software. Open Health Tools is a recent effort with lots of important players involved but compared to Mirth relatively un-deployed software.

It should be noted that my own small RHIO demonstration project, HealthQuilt, will be implementing Mirth. So far, HealthQuilt is the de facto RHIO effort within Houston. In other, Texas news, OpenHRE is being deployed in San Antonio as part of a system architected by health FOSS enthusiast and security expert Alesha Adamson.

Obviously one of the most mature efforts is the Redwood MedNet led by Will Ross. Ironically, my uncle, Dr. Marvin Trotter, serves on the Redwood MedNet BOD. Small world.

4 thoughts on “Health of the Source”

  1. Consensus. I usually use that word instead of collaboration. Decisions are made by consensus in an open source world. You start from where you agree and work outward, rather than starting from where you disagree and working inward.

  2. I agree decisions by consensus, but progress by collaboration, coordination and constructive competition.

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