NHS IT To Embrace Open Source

Jennifer Scott | ComputerWeekly.com | July 2, 2013

Open source licensing agreements will be a key feature of the new approach to NHS IT, according to a report published today. The “safer hospitals, safer wards: achieving an integrated digital care record” publication from NHS England said it aimed to “develop a vibrant market of products and solutions” for organisations across the country to use, all made available under an open source licence model.  It hopes embracing open source will both cut the upfront costs of implementing new IT systems, as well as take advantage of using the best brains from different areas of healthcare to develop collaborative solutions.

“NHS England will draw together details of available solutions and case studies that will aid organisations in assessing their options,” read the report.  “In addition, and most importantly, NHS England will support the development of these products to ensure that they are ready for market, that they have the necessary support frameworks behind them and that they have an appropriate roadmap for future development.”  The approach has taken inspiration from the US VistA project, formed in the 1980s, to develop an integrated medical records system owned and developed alongside clinicians.

NHS England has visited the organisation and is now looking into whether the solution could be customised to fit into the UK healthcare system.  Other elements of the report included the reiteration of using a standard patient identifier – namely the NHS number – for the electronic records system to work and promised support from NHS England to local communities embarking on the digital initiative, as well as the encouragement for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to get involved in the procurement process...