Latest Blog Posts

Fax Technologies Take Center Stage at HIMSS19 Exhibition

One of the most surprising developments at HIMSS19 is the large number of companies exhibiting their Fax Technologies. Long derided by reporters, health IT consultants, and EHR vendors, fax technologies have been growing in leaps and bounds while EHRs continue to fail to deliver interoperability. Just a couple of years ago faxes were used in around 75% of medical records exchanges. Latest numbers indicate that faxes are now used to exchange more than 85% of medical records. Most people would react in horror to such figures. How could physicians and medical personnel rely on antiquated paper technologies like faxes? The real story to be found on the exhibit floor at the HIMSS 2019 conference is that what we are seeing is a rapid transition to digital fax technologies and platforms. And this transition is taking place because physicians and medical staff have figured out they work!

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Open Health Guide to HIMSS19

The annual gargantuan HIMSS conference is back in Orlando with over 45,000 participants from more than 90 countries. There will be more than 1,300 vendors at the exhibit floor and more than 300 educational sessions. As with the last several conferences, the focus on open source as the key underlying technologies of health information technologies continues to increase. In previous conferences, we have seen the rise of open source technologies, in particular, those related to interoperability such as FHIR and Blockchain. A large number of sessions at HIMSS19 will be focused on another set of technologies powered largely by open source software and design principles such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and natural language processing.

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HIMSS19: Open Source Software for Disaster Preparedness and Response

Although not officially listed as a track at the HIMSS19 conference, there are a series of very important presentations on the use of open source software for disaster preparedness and response. This is a critical topic that we have covered extensively in Open Health News. As we detailed in this article, there was a major failure in being able to provide victims of Hurricane Harvey, as well as Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria with access to their medical records. Few emergency medical responders could access their records either. The two success stories that came out of the hurricanes were two open source electronic health record (EHR) systems, OpenEMR and the VA's open source VistA EHR.

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CES 2019 In Vegas to Feature Patient-Centric Open Health IT Innovations

CES is the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years - the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. This year's conference has a health and wellness track as well as many health IT vendors in the exhibit. One of the most significant announcements will be the release of iBlueButton 8 by Humetrix. Blue Button is one of the core elements of the White House open source health IT strategy that we wrote about here. Humetrix has developed a mobile health platform and the latest version will be unveiled at the conference.

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OpenMRS and the Kenya Health Informatics Association Issue Invitation to Implementers Conference in Kenya

OpenMRS and the Kenya Health Informatics Association have issued an invitation to the OpenMRS Implementers Conference in Kenya. The conference will take place from December 4th to the 8th in in Nairobi, Kenya. The invitation was issued by Paul Biondich, the Executive Director of OpenMRS, and Steven Wanyee, Executive Secretary General, of the Kenya Health Informatics Association (KeHIA). The OpenMRS conference will be held back to back with the HELINA scientific conference which begins on December 3rd.This is the 12th OpenMRS Implementers’ conference, the 6th in Africa and the 2nd to be held in Kenya. OpenMRS Implementers’ Conferences are a way to bring health care professionals and OpenMRS implementers together to collaborate, share implementation experiences and discover new ways to improve OpenMRS.

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OSEHRA to Hold Kick-Off Meeting for VistA Internationalization Project

OSEHRA Chairman Seong K. Mun will be holding a kick-off meeting for the recently announced VistA Internationalization project called Plan VI...This is an important project as the open source VistA electronic health record is being adopted internationally at a rapid pace. There are large numbers of VistA deployments in Jordan and India, and great interest in South Korea, Japan, and China. The Internationalization project should accelerate the international adoption of the EHR, ranked as the best hospital-based EHR in the world.

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Tech Giants Back White House Open Source Health IT Initiative

Six major technology companies have thrown their support behind the White House's initiative to use an open source, collaborative, approach to accelerate the progress of health data standards and interoperability and to give patients access and control of their medical records. The companies; Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce signed a pledge that was presented at the White House's Blue Button 2.0 developer conference. The conference took place last Monday. Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) told the press that “As transformative technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence continue to advance, it is important that we work towards creating partnerships that embrace open standards and interoperability.

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Blue Button Developers to Meet at the White House Today - Verma and Liddell to Open the Conference

More than 700 app developers and eHealth groups and organizations have registed to meet today at the White House for the first Blue Button 2.0 developer conference. The "The inaugural Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference will bring together application developers in the technical community to help build and develop new tools to help patients understand their health data,” said Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in a statement. 

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Is Cloud Faxing the Solution to the Health IT Usability and Interoperability Crisis?

The Healthcare industry is in profound crisis as the HITECH Act of 2009 led medical facilities across the United States to spend in excess of $3 trillion on the purchase and implementation of expensive electronic health records (EHRs) under the Meaningful Use program. Yet, the most fundamental goals of electronic records Nirvana that were promised have not been achieved. For multiple reasons, EHRs have turned out to lack usability and be non-interoperable. In fact, most monopoly EHR vendors are engaged in what is commonly called “data blocking.” In most cases physicians are unable to obtain medical records for the patients they are seeing and patients have a hard time getting a hold of their own medical records. That means that the medical records are not available at the most important moment, the caregiver/patient encounter, and are not available to the patients themselves and their family members.

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FDA Issues RFQ for Large Scale EHR Study - Wants to Leverage VA's Open Source VistA EHR and Database for Research

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday issued a Request for Quotation (RFQ) for a large-scale electronic health record (EHR) system. This RFQ is very important as the objective is to develop a platform to support a critical project by the FDA's Division of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics (DBB) "to conduct research to assess the safety and surveillance of FDA regulated products through the FDA adverse event reporting systems..." Adverse drug reactions are one of the leading causes of death in the US, thus finding which drugs cause negative interactions is of vital importance. The project requires "use of the large electronic medical record (EMR) system..." The project is going to leverage the largest, most comprehensive, and clinically relevant medical records database, that of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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Application Deadline to Host OpenMRS 2018 Annual Implementers Meet Coming Up

The deadline to apply to host the 2018 International OpenMRS Implementers conference is coming up on April 30 [updated]. Nations that want to host the meeting need to answer the detailed questionnaire by that time. For those Open Health News readers who have missed one of the greatest health IT stories of the decade, the Government of Uganda hosted the 2016 OpenMRS meeting in their capital city of Kampala. The conference was such an extraordinary success that a large number of other national governments volunteered to host the 2017 Implementer's conference. There are currently close to 40 countries around the world where OpenMRS is being implemented throughout the county in large-scale deployments.

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HIMSS18: Key Exhibitor Booths for Open Solutions, Collaboration, and Interoperability

The annual gargantuan HIMSS conference is back at Las Vegas with over 40,000 participants, over a thousand exhibitors, and more than 600 presentations. As we saw last year in Orlando, more than half of the conference presentations are focused on applications based on open source such as FHIR and Blockchain, and a great emphasis on open solutions for interoperability. With so many presentations and exhibits, it is impossible to provide a full overview. Below are a few of some of the most interesting exhibits of open solutions this year.

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OSEHRA To Hold Innovation Webinar on Open Source Clinical Quality Tools

OSEHRA is going to be holding a special one-hour Innovation Webinar tomorrow as part of the National Health IT Week. The focus will be on open source applications and tools that are gaining traction for clinical quality measures. Well known and very mature is popHealth. The webinar participants will discuss the latest upgrades in version 5.0 of the software. They will also present a new entrant into the field. That would be the Cedar project, an open source tool for testing the strength of Electronic Clinical Quality Measure (eCQM) collection systems that receive Quality Reporting Document Architecture (QRDA) files.

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Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Draw the Line - Time for the US to Embrace Open Source Emergency and Disaster Response

For nearly 20 years now the global open source community and applications have been a keystone to disaster relief efforts around the world. The enormous number of disaster relief applications and knowledge that has been developed through all these years, should, and needs to be leveraged in the current crisis. For that reason, Open Health News is starting a series of articles to highlight some of the most important solutions. A substantial portion the open source applications for emergency and disaster response that exist are actually already on the news website in the form of articles and resource pages.

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Community Health Network in Houston Leverages Open Source Tech to Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Undaunted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, the Stephen F. Austin Community Health Network (SFA) responded to the crisis by leveraging open source technology to reach out to their patients and victims of the hurricane in areas of Texas that are virtually inaccessible. The Health Network, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) covering Brazoria County, is one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey and currently recovering. Using an advanced cloud-based version of the OpenEMR software, the SFA Community Health Network has been able to treat patients in clinics physically unreachable by their medical providers.

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OpenMRS Community Announces Malawi will be the Host Country for OMRS17

OpenMRS Global Events Manager Christine Gichuki announced yesterday that Malawi has been chosen as the host country for the OpenMRS 2017 implemeters meeting (OMRS17). This is a major milestone for the OpenMRS project. OMRS16 was hosted by the government of Uganda last year. The conference was a major success as I decribed in a presentation at the recent OSEHRA 2017 meeting in Bethesda, Maryland. This will be the second OMRS meeting that is hosted the by a national goverment. The incredibly successful meeting in Uganda is described in this article.

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OSEHRA Update on VistA /eHMP Microsoft Azure Cloud Project

OSEHRA will be holding a webinar on Tuesday, May 16, to provide an update and discussion of the status of the development of a cloud-based version of VistA and eHMP running on Microsoft Azure. The project is sponsored by Microsoft and was announced two months ago in a statement by Don Hewitt, the Vice President of Business Operations of OSEHRA. Hewitt writes: One of our newest members, Microsoft Corporation, is sponsoring an open source project group to implement a proof of concept for VistA in the cloud...

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HHS IDEA Lab Hosting Innovation Day in DC on May 15

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is holding an Innovation Day on Monday, May 15th at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, D.C. The day will feature presentations from teams across HHS who are using open source, collaborative, and entrepreneurial methods like design thinking and lean startup to improve how their office or agency delivers on the HHS mission. The day will also feature a panel on deploying creative thinking to improve work in government, and innovative speakers from government and the private sector.

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HIMSS17 - Open Health Guide to the HIMSS Conference in Orlando

The HIMSS17 Conference taking place in Orlando, FL, is clearly the turning point for open source in the healthcare information technology industry. Although the label "open source" is barely mentioned in the program, the fact is the majority of the presentations at the conference are either based directly on open source technologies or open health concepts. These include the large number of presentations on interoperability, FHIR, and the open/modular Medicaid IT revolution.

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The 1.5+ Trillion Dollar HITECH Act

Hopefully, the public statements made by President Obama and Vice President Biden will lead to a public debate over the monumental problems that the HITECH Act and proprietary EHR vendors have caused the American people. While the press continues to report the figure of $35 billion as the cost of implementing EHRs, that figure does not tell the entire story. Perhaps the next step is to provide accountability and transparency. That would start with firm numbers regarding the real costs of EHR implementations forced on an unprepared healthcare system by the HITECH Act.

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Obama and Biden Blast EHR Vendors for Data Blocking

As they are winding their terms in office, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden dropped a stink bomb on the health IT industry. Speaking at different events on Friday, January 9th, the President and Vice President both criticized proprietary electronic health record (EHR) vendors as the primary obstacle to the success of their administration’s health care strategy. This is the highest level acknowledgment so far of the serious impact that “lock-in” EHR software vendors are having on America’s medical infrastructure and the ability of physicians to provide medical care.

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Andrew Slavitt and the Opportunity Offered by Open Medicaid IT

As we reported in the December 15 issue of OpenMedicaidIT News, Andrew Slavitt, Acting Administrator of CMS, has openly discussed the opportunity offered by CMS' open Medicaid IT strategy in multiple blog posts and meetings. We have reported on this opportunity in an article titled CMS To Invest $5+ Billion a Year in Open Source and Cloud-based IT Infrastructure for Medicaid and recently started a newsletter provide our readers with news of the opportunities for tech companies as they emerge. We reprint here the article from the newsletter presenting that opportunity in Slavitt’s own words.

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OSEHRA to Launch Workgroup to Develop Strategy for Open Health Community

Major developments in open source health information technology are opening all kinds of opportunities for the members of the OSEHRA community. These developments include the open source strategy embraced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to modernize the state Medicaid IT infrastructure, the rapid adoption of open source APIs, including Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and the emergence of blockchain technology and middleware solutions to fix the interoperability crisis.

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OSEHRA to Hold Community Calls to Discuss VA Digital Health Platform [Updated]

OSEHRA is holding a community call today and next Thursday, Sept. 29, with the open health community to discuss the response of the open source community to the recently release RFI by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a "digital health platform." Notice with details from Seong K. Mun below..."According to the RFI (which is attached to this message), VHA "desires a Next Generation Digital Health Platform that is integrated, future-proof and optimizes the cost of operations. To achieve these goals, VA is considering establish an interoperable digital health platform that leads to Easier Access to Care for the Veteran, Better Outcomes for the Veteran and more efficient operations for the VHA"

OSEHRA Community Responds to the Federal Government's Proposed Open Source Policy

The OSEHRA community today submitted a response to the "Draft Open Source Policy for Federal Agencies" released by the White House on March 10. The policy was open for comments through today. This is a major milestone for the OSEHRA community as well as the open source community as a whole. Currently the US Government spends nearly a hundred billion dollars a year on software purchased from the private sector or procured from government contractors. Most of this software acquisition ends up in failure. President Barack Obama has made it a priority to shift technology acquisition policies to solve this problem and restore technology innovation by embracing open source.

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