'Using Open Source for Health Care Systems Requires Political Will'

Gijs Hillenius | Joinup | July 17, 2012

Political will and government involvement in electronic health care implementations are two of the success factors for the use of open source in this field, says Claudio Zaugg, project manager at the Health Technology and Telemedicine Unit of the Swiss Centre for International Health (SCIH).

The Swiss biomedical engineer and public health expert was one of the speakers in a workshop on open source in e-health care. The workshop was part of the Libre Software Meeting (Recontres Mondial de Logiciel Libre) that took place in Geneva, last week.

The SCIH is a department of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Zaugg is involved in the development of the institute's 'toolbox' for health management and information systems. It combines existing and newly made open source tools, for example OpenMedis, a tool to collect and manage information on medical devices, OpenHds, software for keeping consistent records of significant demographic events in a region and OpenMRS, a medical record system platform. The institute helps building-up such systems in countries like Moldova, Ukraine, Egypt and Tanzania.

Based on his experiences in the first two countries, the biomedical engineer also concludes that "good governance is needed to avoid single‐vendor solutions and proprietary standards." During the workshop in Geneva, he explained that web‐based applications makes technical support easier. They overcome problems with client PCs, handling of data and storage, and make it easier to support and maintain software...