HIMSS day1: Medsphere

This is the first article I am writing from HIMSS09. I am here on a press pass provided by LinuxMedNews. I am focusing on FOSS here at HIMSS.

I am, by tribal law, required to make a certain amount of Star Wars analogies when blogging and I recently categorized HIMSS as “the empire” with regards to health it. Of course the FOSS movement in health IT would be the rebel alliance in my analogy.

In reality there is a component of HIMSS that is FOSS-friendly and FOSS runs as an under current at every HIMSS conference that I have attended. It can be hard to find but it is there.

Today is a slow day at HIMSS with the notable exception of Medsphere’s presence at the health it venture fair.

Mostly the talk featured things are hardly news in our community. OpenVistA is based on FOIA VA Vista. The talk was geared to the VC crowd in the room so it was mostly focused on how many clients Medsphere has now how many Medsphere has coming… Etc. Etc.

One thing that that did surprise me was the ‘short’ version of the recent study on the improvements at Midland Memorial Hospital, an early Medsphere adopter. Two less people die every day at Midland b/c of the systems in place to handle central-line infections inside OpenVistA. Wow. That means that Medsphere clients are starting to get VA-like improved outcomes. All at a fraction of the cost of the proprietary alternatives.

The one thing that I wish VC companies ‘got’ about FOSS companies is that they must appeal to both the community as well as the market.

The problem with this kind of VC meeting is that there is simply not enough time to get into any kind of technical meat.

If I were asked to invest in FOSS EHR companies and they all would take the 100 bucks that I can afford right now. I would give 70 percent to Medsphere, 20 percent to ClearHealth and 10 percent to Tolven.

Reasons:

  • Medsphere has the only vista client that runs on GNU/Linux.
  • Fedora project will soon support multi-head again. It is hard to underestimate the importance of this.
  • Once this works, a Medsphere solution will be not only 5 times cheaper for software, but also 5 times cheaper for hardware!!
  • It is not clear that WebVistA (ClearHealth’s hospital product) is community friendly.
  • Tolven is not (yet) a comprehensive solution like VistA

In any case it was good to see Medsphere active and to hear rumors about the ‘Medsphere bus’….

Enjoy the pic of Medsphere CEO Mike Doyle beside the HIMSS Health IT Venture Fair sign!

Defending VA-VistA

I was heavily quoted in a recent article in Government Health IT entitled VA’s health IT gamble. In it, I present the case that the current IT centralization efforts within the VA are damaging to VistA and therefore the VA’s ability to deliver quality care. From the article:

“Historically, each hospital hired programmers to solve that hospital’s needs,” Trotter said. “Other hospitals then adapted those solutions to their own needs. With the centralization process, all VistA programmers will be working for a central bureau. This could stop 30 years of innovation in which the best local innovations were taken national.”

Ironically the article cited a VA official as saying that they were taking a “Evolutionary approach”, despite the fact that they just bought a Cerner lab system rather than building the functionality into VistA. Strange.

-FT