Feature Articles

How to Care for the Community Over the Code

At All Things Open 2016, Joe Brockmeier answers the question: How can companies can work effectively with open source communities? In his talk, Joe reminded us of the #1 open source myth: Open source is comprised of mostly volunteers. The truth is, these days, pretty much any major open source project has people who are paid to work on it. There are always people who do it because they love it, but these days most of us are paid (and still love it). Over the years we have learned that if you want patches in a timely manner, you need people who are paid to do it...

Affordable COVID-19 Diagnoses for Hospitals: How Open Source Software Helps

The most common COVID-19 symptoms—such as coughing, fever, and shortness of breath—are shared with many other diseases. Diagnosing a patient accurately is therefore a challenge. Although a diagnosis of COVID-19 might not affect treatment, it would help a hospital predict a patient's trajectory and anticipate the need for urgent intervention. But current tests, relying on blood or mucus samples, are not particularly accurate. In this article, we'll see how open source software can help hospitals make better diagnoses. I'll concentrate on one specific role, and on the ways open source facilitates finding a solution and keeping it affordable. Many aspects of the problem feed into the solution discussed here. The article is based on work by researcher Trevor Grant.

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Artificial intelligence in medicine: Is the genie out of the bottle?

It is probably a given that artificial intelligence (AI) will become an integral part of healthcare delivery and of our public health infrastructure. What is not a given is that we will easily reach that point, and maintain progress in a way that maximizes its effectiveness in achieving the goals we have come to expect of it – efficient and improved healthcare and public health systems. In other words, making the health of people better in a cost-effective way. Responsible commentators have already begun to question the value of AI in medicine.

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Using Digital Ledger Technology To Put Physicians Back In Control

Our healthcare system is failing. It costs more and has overall worse outcomes than any other industrialized nation. It is failing because those on the front lines of healthcare - the physicians and patients- have no say in how the system is run. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) - otherwise known as blockchain - has the ability to change that. DLT allows for secure direct peer to peer (In healthcare this means patient to doctor and doctor to doctor) communication and data transfer. No more storage of private information and transactions on centralized data capturing systems like electronic health records platforms.

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How Laboratories and their Systems can Weather Natural Disasters and Pandemics

We are currently experiencing a global pandemic - which, while perhaps included in disaster preparedness Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) by many labs as a possible disaster, still has caught most the infrastructure and health systems of most nations largely unprepared, and is causing major disruption because it was arguably not seen as one of the most likely events. Disaster preparedness has typically tended to focus on IT and data management risks and/or natural disasters. SOPs center around standard, daily lab safety. The truth is that whatever the odds of a particular disaster, they become 100% once they happen. It's important to have sufficient risk-reduction SOPs in play, and a good Continuity Of Operations Plan (COOP) for each potential scenario to ensure the best chance of coping during the event and recovering afterwards.

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DoD Looks for Disaster Response Solutions Through Artificial Intelligence Innovation Competition

An important new trend in the federal sector involves the use of "innovation competitions" to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions for major problems that the agencies face. An ongoing AI innovation competition from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), known as the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge began in March 2019. While that competition is only open to major consulting firms, the Department of Defense (DoD) was the trendsetter here and has been working on a series of AI competitions that began with the xView competition in March 2018.

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Open Source Governance and the Rise of a New Open Health Movement

It's hard to tell if (or when) new open source foundations will appear and claim a leading role in healthcare. It would be interesting to see one created to scale an existing viable model, such as the one from Oroville Hospital using VistA. Or we could see OSEHRA shifting its focus and expanding its charter beyond just the US government space. Nevertheless, the successful foundation would keep a low barrier to entry for innovators, allowing them to incorporate and scale open source healthcare technologies into commercial products. Time will tell, but what's for certain is that we live in interesting times, and I am looking forward to massive innovation in healthcare in the near future. The time is ripe.

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Using Open Technology To Build a Biodefense Against the Coronavirus

As the number of US cases of the coronavirus rises, how will healthcare professionals be able to tell the difference between which panicked patients with similar symptoms has what? Even if the patient hasn't traveled to Wuhan or China recently, what if they sat at a Starbucks with someone who did? With the incubation time-lag before symptoms appear, who would even know? The challenge of monitoring 330 million people for infectious disease outbreaks is daunting. Take the flu as an example. During the last flu season which, as already discussed, was not as complex as this year's season, approximately 35.5 million Americans had flu symptoms, 16.5 million received medical care, 490,600 were hospitalized and 34,200 died.

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Sure Strategies for Improving Health and Education: 2020 and Beyond

Our paths cross as we enter a new decade and consider the next ten years can lead to marked improvements in healthcare delivery - something sorely needed but doable. To that end, we've identified three key developments that can and should be implemented. These are not the only needed improvements and avenues to be pursued; that would take a book or a longer article. So, we've focused on what are, for us, three of the most innovative possibilities. One added word: some of the three innovations or aspects of them may strike readers as fanciful or imaginary or over-the-proverbial-top. But, the speed with which technology is changing, the pressing need for solutions and our capacities to consider new paradigms for solving old problems are converging.

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How DoD Plans to Leverage Artificial Intelligence and Open Source to Improve Emergency Response and Disaster Relief

Some might not know it, but the US military plays a key role in US disaster response strategy and, accordingly, the Department of Defense (DoD) has prioritized its disaster response mission and is investing heavily towards increasing its capabilities and effectiveness. Technology is a big part of all modern DoD missions, and disaster response is no different. The most promising and transformative technology on the horizon for our future, and for the future of the DoD, is Artificial Intelligence (AI). So how exactly will the DoD leverage Artificial Intelligence technologies in order to meet the demands of the disaster response mission? Is a new Center of Excellence created by DoD, called the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). Read More »

Major Interoperability Initiative Launched During the Annual Meeting of The Sequoia Project

On December 5, 2019, HLN Consulting, LLC participated in The Sequoia Project's day long annual meeting which was held just outside of Washington, D.C. at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. As a leading healthcare informatics consulting company HLN monitors developments in healthcare interoperability nationally with particular emphasis on the impact to public health agencies and their stakeholders. This conference represented a good opportunity to participate in the start of a major interoperability initiative that will play out over the next several years. In addition to this report, the Sequoia Project posted the proceedings of the meeting online, including the recorded discussions as well as the slides from the presentations. Read More »

A Perspective of Open Source Licensing Models for the Health Care Industry

Recently, I've had several interesting conversations about how business models based on open source technologies apply to the healthcare industry. While a lot has been written on the subject, I aim to provide a concise summary and some of my personal perspectives on the matter. This article discusses the definition of open source technology and licensing models; a second article will discuss governance models and applications in healthcare...In reality, it's hard to talk about open source licensing without talking about intellectual property (IP) and copyright. Copyright sums up the rights and obligations that the rightful owner associates with the work. The license describes the rights and obligations of any and everyone else, and can be as broad or as limited as the owner chooses.

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“WE ARE” Data-driven Social Determinants of Health for Life

Who are you? Today the data knows! DataStreams are being created by each of our mobile and Internet-connected devices moment by moment each and every day. In fact, 90% of all data created in the history of humankind has been created in the last few years. We are talking in excess of two quintillion bytes of data a day being generated. A quintillion is a billion, billion; the data generated by our interactions with the Web, Twitter, Amazon, every Google search, text message, photo taken, command sent to Alexa and all our other actions recorded as digital data is the number TWO followed by 18 zeros! The challenge in healthcare today is knowing the elements and characteristics of the DataStreams as they relate to the overall Determinants of Health. The goal is to ethically and legally harness data to develop new products and services that can improve health quality and lower costs, while delivering value and profitability within sustainable organizations.

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Regarding Open Source, Security, and Cloud Migration, Old Prejudices Die Hard in Health Care

Although the health care industry has made great strides in health IT, large numbers of providers remain slow to reap the benefits of a “digital transformation”. Health care organizations focus on what they get paid for and neglect other practices that would improve care and security. At conferences and meetings year and after year, I have to listen to health care leaders tediously explode the same myths and explain the same principles over and over. In this article I'll concentrate on the recent EXPO.health conference, put on in Boston by John Lynn's Healthcare Scene, where the topics of free and open source EHRs, security, and cloud migration got mired down in rather elementary discussions.

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Case Study: Achieving Meaningful Use Targets With careMESH Digital Referrals and Transitions of Care

The Medical Home Development Group (MHDG) is a Washington D.C.-based physician group which qualifies for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. On the heels of successfully meeting their Meaningful Use (MU-1) objective with the implementation of an Electronic Health Record (EHR), MHDG focused 2018 on seeking innovative ways to meet MU-2 measures through new digital referral and care transition processes...Quickly nearing the end of the performance period, MHDG chose the careMESH secure, cloud-based communications platform and embedded workflow tools to meet the measure in time. By retrieving patient records from their Sevocity EHR and using the careMESH multi-channel delivery approach to ensure truly digital sharing with all of the receiving providers, MHDG had an opportunity to complete its reporting requirements before year-end.

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