Recently, I was asked by several community members to begin ‘activating’ the community at large against certain threats to FOSS in healthcare. Dr. Valdes and I have been planning on doing this for years, and, in our own ways, have both begun to attempt to make the public aware of the issues that our community (FOSS Health IT) faces. Dr. Ignacio Valdes has been publishing several articles on the subject at LinuxMedNews , which have meet with considerable success. One of his posts on the subject have been slashdotted.
While Ignacio has been taking a hard-line Free (as in freedom) Software approach, I have been (in a twist for me) taking an ‘Open Source’ approach. The people who approached me at DOHCS were unanimous in their belief that what FOSS needed from the government was merely a level playing field, so that we could compete, and win, on our own merits.
The largest single threat to the future of FOSS in healthcare in the US is the certification process mandated by the stimulus act. The language provides funding for -certified- EHR systems and eventually penalties for not using -certified- EHR systems.
The best established certification body is CCHIT. They have not been named as the certification body, but they are likely lobbying for that role. However, CCHIT has had an anti-FOSS stance for years. For years, I and other activists in the community have chosen
to largely ignore this bias. Simply because CCHIT was an optional certification. Now, things have changed. It is possible that the government will mandate a certification program that is either CCHIT or similarly unfriendly to FOSS.
Recently I submitted my complaints to Dennis Wilson (associated with both the FOSS Laika project and employed by CCHIT) who put me in touch with Mark Leavitt. As a main result of that discussion, Mark has agreed to have a meeting with the community-at-large about this issue at HIMSS (please see the forwarded message from the CCHIT e-newsletter below).
Granted, this is like offering to meet with the Rebel Alliance at the annual Death Star conference. Even more overtly than CCHIT, HIMSS is decidedly anti-FOSS. HIMSS has actively attacked and defamed the FOSS movement. For example, HIMSS EHR Vendor association continues to limit membership to vendors who “design, develop and market its own proprietary Electronic Health Record (EHR) software application.” Further HIMSS has specially advocated against the US government funding of FOSS EHR solutions, which implicitly includes VA development of VistA. There is also great concern about the ties between CCHIT and HIMSS/EHRVA. Leavitt himself was employed by HIMSS immediately before his current position and is currently a fellow of HIMSS. CCHIT maintains that the two organizations are independent, everyone else seems to understand the dangerous familiarity between the two organizations. (update 3-30: Dennis Wilson has noted that this meeting will be held ‘with’ but not ‘at’ HIMSS… You do not need a HIMSS badge to attend)
However, Mark has also agreed to provide some kind of remote access capability for those of us who cannot afford the time, cost or moral compromise required to attend HIMSS. For this reason, and because of their willingness to meet at all, I am asking the community to attend the CCHIT/FOSS meeting. In person if at all possible, by remote access if not.
The meeting will be held at HIMSS on Monday, April 6, Room 10d, Session #2 2:00 – 3:00 PM
I have heard from several of the HIMSS ‘regulars’ in our community that they will be going. However, it is critical that we have a show of force within the community from precisely those people who have the most to lose with regards to the certification issue: small support companies and individual consultants.
We are becoming more ‘organized’ as we speak. Please watch this space for more announcements on how you can participate to keep the US government from making anti-FOSS blunders now and in the future.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sue Reber <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Mar 13, 2009 at 3:07 PM
Subject: FW: CCHIT eNews: Seeking volunteers, Expansion,
Interoperability and Open Source
To: fred trotter <email@example.com>
Cc: Dennis Wilson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fred – see below “Commission Hosts Interoperability and Open Source
Roundtables on Certification” in our regular electronic newsletter.
C Sue Reber
Marketing Director, CCHIT
Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology
503.288.5876 office | 503.703.0813 cell | 503.287.4613 fax
— majority of newsletter removed for brevity —
Commission Hosts Interoperability and Open Source Roundtables on Certification
In addition to its annual Town Hall at the upcoming HIMSS09 Annual
Conference in Chicago, the Certification Commission will be hosting
two technical roundtables, co-located with the conference, for health
IT vendors and developers. The first, “Interoperability 09 and Beyond:
a look at CCHIT’s roadmap for the future”, will present the
Commission’s interoperability roadmap and explore the standards and
testing tools with which developers need to be familiar.
The second, “Open Source Forum: a dialogue on certification for open
source EHRs”, is designed to continue the discussion with open source
developers with an interest in certifying EHRs. This session will
allow an open exchange of the challenges and opportunities for making
certified open source EHRs available to providers.
The times and locations of sessions are below. Both Health IT
Technical Roundtables will also be available via free remote access.
Details will be available at cchit.org prior to the date.
CCHIT Town Hall at HIMSS09 Annual Conference
Sunday, April 5
Room W192b, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago
9:45 – 11:15 AM
Health IT Technical Roundtables at Hyatt McCormick Conference Center
Monday, April 6
Room 10d, Hyatt McCormick Conference Center, Chicago
Session #1 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Interoperability 09 and Beyond: a look at CCHIT’s roadmap for the future
Session #2 2:00 – 3:00 PM
Open Source Forum: a dialogue on certification for open source EHRs
— sections removed for brevity —-
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