Surescripts agrees to modify NDA to be compatible with Open Source licences

As many of you know,  I am often asked to represent the FOSS Health IT community in negotiations with various organizations. My first opportunity to do this was with CCHIT, that negotiation has turned out pretty well. Then I represented the FOSS community at the NCVHS hearings on Meaningful Use.

Most recently, I have had requests from the community regarding Surescripts (who appropriately use a .net domain name… because they are a network!!).

For those that do not know, Surecripts (after the merger with RxHub) is essentially the only way to communicate electronic prescription messages in the United States. However, many in the FOSS community felt that the Surescripts Non-Disclosure Agreement prevented FOSS implementations of the Surescripts interface.

I just got off the phone with Rick Ratliff and Paul Uhrig from Surescripts and they agreed to modify the NDA to explicitly allow the release of Surescripts implementations under Open Source and Freedom Respecting Software Licenses. In fact from their perscpective this was implicitly allowed under the current NDA.

To move forward I have asked representatives from Medsphere and ClearHealth (Open Source vendors who already have a working relationship with Surescripts) to work with Surescripts to produce a short modification to the Surescripts NDA which will explicitly allow for a FOSS release. Once they have finished that language, we will present the resulting changes to the community at large to make sure it works for everyone. After this, Surescripts has agreed to add the changes to the default NDA.

While this issue will not be resolved until we have FOSS-available implementations that can access the Surescripts network, this is a huge step forward. I would like to thank Paul and Rick for making time for me in what must be a tremendously busy schedule.



2 thoughts on “Surescripts agrees to modify NDA to be compatible with Open Source licences”

  1. There were two large e-prescribing networks, RxHub and Surescripts. They merged. The resulting combination has practically exclusive relationships with so many pharmacies, that a competitor is really a non-starter.
    From the pharmacies perspective it makes sense to have a single-network integration, less work for them.

    I have not tried yet, but if would be interesting to see if you went to a local chain pharmacy, and asked them to accept e-prescriptions from your EHR. I would bet that after navigating the bureaucracy, you would find someone who would authoritatively tell you that you had to work with surescripts and that it was your only option.

    There are other natural “network” monopolies, like Google and Twitter, that have done a pretty good job of demonstrating that they are Open Source friendly. It looks like Surescripts is going down that path too and this should be applauded despite their monopoly status.

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