CCHIT to meet with FOSS community

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.

Best,
-Fred Trotter
http://www.fredtrotter.com

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sue Reber <sreber@cchit.org>
Date: Fri, Mar 13, 2009 at 3:07 PM
Subject: FW: CCHIT eNews: Seeking volunteers, Expansion,
Interoperability and Open Source
To: fred trotter <fred.trotter@gmail.com>
Cc: Dennis Wilson <dwilson@cchit.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

sreber@cchit.org

— 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 —-

Contact : eNews@cchit.org | www.cchit.org

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Information Technology
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My wife attends the University of Houston.

Normally, I reserve this space for discussing Health IT matters, but in this case I must make an exception. UH is one of the most frustrating institutions I know of. I believe, that UH has one of the most ineffective Information Infrastructures I have ever seen. So I am devoting a new topic in my blog to discussing my frustrations with it. My wife (Laura) and I have been having multiple, serious frustrations for some time, and each time I imagine that I should write something about it. But I do not want to start yet another blog, so I am going to use a category of this blog for now.  Perhaps I will use RSS etc to turn this into a separate blog. If you are interested in my Health IT posts… please skip this.

Today vnet.uh.edu is down. Vnet is the portal for students to receive course materials from their professors. Why? As best I can tell, it is down because it is test-time. The university education website is down… when it is needed most. It is probably down because it is being flooded with users. It is being flooded with users since so many students have a test tomorrow.

In short, vnet is exactly the sort of tool that breaks when you need it most.

There is little that vnet does, that Moodle does not do. Moodle, because it runs on Linux, can happily sit in the cloud at Amazon or Rackspace, which means that it can scale (in an automated fashion) to the point that entire countries could hit the website at the same time.

But instead it is being hosted either by the school or by vnet. In either case, it breaks constantly. According to this video vnet “leverages open source”. However, the vnet website has no mention of downloads, community or license. That usually means that the application is 100% proprietary. Further, it is easy enough to conclude that VNET was primarily developed by UH.

I am sure that VNET has some features that Moodle does not. But instead of adding to Moodle, and using a known-good platform, UH has decided to use a platform that they built themselves.

Now my wife cannot get to her documents. And I am sitting here pressing “refresh” in the hopes that I will be able to get onto the site, so that my wife can pass her Genetics class.

-FT

Health of the Source

I pretty regularly give a talk entitled “The health of the source”. The subject of the talk is everything that has happened in health FOSS, since the last time I gave the talk. Thankfully things move along fast enough that I am never short of content. You will find this article dripping with useful bias and opinion. This is not merely a list of projects but also what I think of the projects. I might be omitting your favorite project intentionally, because I think it is irrelevant, OR out of ignorance, OR because I am limiting the scope. For instance this time I did not include much on clinical research (openclinica) or imaging, since my TEPR audience might not be interested in those.

This intended to reference Larry Walls regular summary of the perl community typically entitled “state of the onion“. (I am suffering from pun envy here… if you have something better… let me know) As I was writing yet another throw-away Open Office presentation, I was lamenting the fact that I had not posted anything really meaty on my blog lately, and I thought I should post my presentation. Then I was thinking how each page of my presentation would really serve as a blog post by itself. Then I realized that I could write one blog post, and if I kept each page short enough to fit above the fold on my little laptop, I could make a postentation. ( <- just invented this word)

So if you would like, you can now read my latest presentation just by clicking on the page numbers on this post. Hopefully it is coherent enough to read without me talking about each slide. But if not, leave me a comment and I will try and fix things.

Customizing Windows

At work, I often have to use a Windows machine. Despite my opinions regarding FOSS software, Windows is a fact of corporate life. Often, I cannot even dual boot. *sigh*

However, when I do have to use Windows, I do not like to go far without my *nix power tools. Here is a list of tools and tweaks that I use to make my Windows experience tolerable.

FOSS tools

gvim – the windows install lets you “edit with vim” from the right click, perfection.

winscp – because ftp uses plaintext

putty – does everything with terminals, telnet, ssh, everything…

emacs – is a little harder to install than vim, but if you use it, you use it.

wireshark – why even bother debugging a network without it?

proprietary tools

Google Toolbar – indispensable if you use gmail

Google Desktop – save time searching your own computer

Adobe Flash Player – because Youtube is just not the same without it

Adobe Reader – because you need to use pdf’s

lifehacker apps

I will update this post as I find things that are totally irreplaceable. However, there alot of ways to improve the Windows user experience, besides making it more like *nix. The best place that I have found for new and different ideas for Windows productivity tools is the LifeHacker: Featured Windows Download category.

Enjoy,

-FT

Health IT (HIT) in Houston

Houston has the largest medical center in the world. I am starting a new networking group in Houston called HIT in Houston

I plan to discuss current events, and Health IT trends as they apply to Houston, T.X. Soon I hope to begin holding monthly meetings through meetup.com and I already have a Linked In Group for HIT in Houston.
If you would like to be included, you can contact me through this site.

-FT

Meeting Dr. Winn at e-MDs

I just had a great meeting with Dr. Winn over at eMds this week. Dr. Winn and I have been in discussions for months regarding how e-MDs might be able to leverage Free and Open Source software. I cannot discuss much until the proverbial ducks are in the proverbial rows, however, I can tell you that Dr. Winn is planning some very very big things with regards to FOSS releases. Thats all I can say for now… but you can assume that I was there for a very good reason.

sign_handshake_fredtrotter_and_drwinn

Along with meeting the whos-who of e-MDs, I took a tour of the e-MDs facility. This place was huge! They had really cool training rooms and other resources to host clients. All in all, they are obviously a first-class software company. (admittedly proprietary, but then no one is perfect.)

The trip concluded with a visit to the best corporate toy I have ever seen. e-MDs has a working moving replica of Robby the Robot, from Forbidden Planet. The replica moves and is controlled via an MP3-player. They have a sound track of funny sayings about e-MDs recorded in a robotic voice that they have the Robot “say” as it moves around, blinks and chirps.

fred_robby_and_drwinnn

Sum it all up

I have been running Postnuke as my blog engine for as long as I can remember. I have received complaints from a fellow blogger that it is difficult to track what I am doing via a single RSS feed. Now I need to blog something that requires a picture. To accomodate the new requirements I am moving to WordPress, which is better focused as a blog engine. Rather than “migrating” my old postnuke posts, I will sum them up here.

  • Please take a look at the Byrons Gallery which I think is really excellent.
  • I would also like to point to a most important post over at my cousins blog which honors my brother. Thanks, Angus, it meant alot to those of us in Texas who have not been able to see the stone yet.
  • I have been interviewed about FreeB and medical billing by LinuxMedNews.
  • I once had a trailer, but I managed to turn it over. Pics of my Home Wreck
  • Byron Trotters Memorial Page, probably more moving than anything is the Guestbook.

Thats it. Thats the relevant content from a blog that I have had for two years. I have been a bad blogger…

-FT