News

Science Journal Examines Key Role of Open Source EHR in Ending Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone

The prestigious, open access, Journal of Medical Internet Research recently published a study looking at the effectiveness of OpenMRS’ use during the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The article highlights the work of a team who developed new user-interface components for OpenMRS and rapidly deployed the system in an Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Sierra Leone. The team, composed of members from OpenMRS, Save the Children International, Thoughtworks, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Partners In Health, University of Leeds, and Columbia University. The team came together in response to an urgent request for healthIT from colleagues at Save the Children International to develop an EHR suitable for deployment in a new Ebola treatment Centre being set up in Kerry Town outside the capital, Freetown.

Health Care's Juicero Problem

Bad news: if you were still hoping to get one of the $400 juicers from Juicero, you may be out of luck.  Juicero announced that they were suspending sales while they seek an acquirer.  They'd already dropped the juicer's price from its initial $700 earlier this year and had hoped to find ways to drop it further, but ran out of time. I keep thinking: if they'd been a health care company, they not only might still be in business but also would probably be looking to raise their prices. Juicero once was the darling of investors. It raised $120 million from a variety of respected funding sources, including Kleiner Perkins, Alphabet and Campbell Soup. They weren't a juice company, or even an appliance company. They were a technology company! They had an Internet-of-Things product! They had an ongoing base of customers...

Design and Produce 3D Printed, Custom Breast Prosthetics

As the market for 3D printers has moved from sophisticated, experienced designers into the mass consumer market, individuals are saving substantial money with pre-designed, DIY products made on 3D printers. These opportunities are poised to increase due to the Free Open Source 3D Customizer, a libre, 3D model customizer that anyone can use to create their own 3D printed designs. To demonstrate how the software works and the possibilities that it creates, I'll show how breast cancer survivors and others can use the Free Open Source 3D Customizer to design and produce 3D-printable external breast prosthetics.

Innovation Needs Dumb Ideas

Over the years I've listened to many new-to-health-care entrepreneurs pitch their great new idea. They're so excited: health care is so inefficient! People are so frustrated by the system! It will be so easy to improve it! I usually end up thinking, "Oh, you poor people. You really don't know much about health care, do you?" They don't fully grasp the strange way it is bought and sold, the convoluted financing, or the layers of regulation. So I wish them well and wait to hear about their eventual failure. But now I'm thinking, maybe it is experts like me who are part of health care's problem. In Harvard Business Review, Ayse Birsel suggests that companies need to do more "reverse thinking," deliberately thinking up wrong ideas...

Report on the ONC 2017 Technical Interoperability Forum

Last week I attended with my colleague Mike Berry the ONC 2017 Technical Interoperability Forum. This meeting was convened under the 21st Century Cures Act passed by Congress in late 2016. Several hundred participants attended a series of panel presentations and discussions. The forum took place over one-and-a-half-days. The forum covered a variety of topics related to interoperability, including discussion of the business case for interoperability, semantics, national networks, and application programming interfaces (APIs). In many ways the speakers were “the usual suspects” involved in national networks, standards development, and HIE planning and implementation.

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10 Advantages of Open Source for the Enterprise

Selecting technologies means committing to solutions that will support an active, growing business over the long term, so it requires careful consideration and foresight. When an enterprise bets on the wrong horse, the result is often significantly higher development costs and reduced flexibility, both of which can stick around for the long haul. In the past decade, adoption of open source software at the enterprise level has flourished, as more businesses discover the considerable advantages open source solutions hold over their proprietary counterparts, and as the enterprise mentality around open source continues to shift. Enterprises looking to make smart use of open source software will find plenty of great reasons to do so. Here are just some of them.

11 Things About Health Care I'm Dying to Redesign

The folks at Ideo recently published 19 Things We're Dying to Redesign, covering a wide range of products, services, and systems, both big and small.  It's very thought-provoking, but only one of them addressed a health care topic (oddly enough, incontinence). If there is an area of our lives that badly needs redesign, it would be health care. And not redesigning it sometimes literally results in us dying. Let's start with a clean slate. I'm not as ambitious as Ideo, in terms of the breadth or number of topics, but here are 11 things about heath care that I'm dying to redesign...

Only Trump Can Go To Single-Payer

Today, I want to submit to you that only Trump can make single-payer health care happen in this country. Only a billionaire, surrounded by a cabinet of billionaires, representing a party partial to billionaires, can make that hazardous 180 degrees political turn and better the lives of the American people, and perhaps the entire world as a result. Oh, I know it’s too soon to make this observation, but note that both Mr. Nixon and Mr. Begin were deeply resented (to put it mildly) in their times, by the same type of people who find Mr. Trump distasteful today.

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Opioid Epidemic Makes EHRs Essential to Public Health

When public health is threatened by an outbreak of SARS or Zika or avian influenza, widely disseminated information becomes a crucial tool used to curtail the spread of disease. But transmittable diseases are not the lone threats to public health. Other metaphorically pathogenic events—the current opioid epidemic, for example—are more effectively managed by making sure doctors have complete information when evaluating patients and, especially, writing prescriptions.

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How Time-series Databases Help Make Sense of Sensors

Infrastructure environments' needs and demands change every year and systems become more complex and involved. But all this growth is meaningless if we don't understand the infrastructure and what's happening in our environment. This is where monitoring tools and software come in; they give operators and administrators the ability to see problems in their environments and fix them in real time. But what if we want to predict problems before they happen? Collecting metrics and data about our environment gives us a window into how our infrastructure is performing and lets us make predictions based on data. When we know and understand what's happening, we can prevent problems, rather than just fixing them...