Healthcare Diagnosis: Open Source

Matt Asay commented today on Harvard Medical School’s CIO Dr. John Halamka’s recent remarks on the positive impact open source could have on the healthcare industry. His comments speak to the vision that open source could revolutionize one of the largest and most difficult sectors to conduct business with in the U.S. economy: healthcare.

As the son of a mother who’s spent the last 20+ years working in the healthcare industry as a receptionist and office manager, I can only begin to understand the difficulties associated with the near medieval manor in which doctors and hospitals store, process, and communicate patient information on a daily basis. The stories my mother has conveyed is downright scary

California’s recent $1 billion purchase of a big, unwieldy, proprietary electronic medical records (EMR) system is one, but a SugarCRM partner that’s been doing some very cool stuff in this realm is another. Jose Lacal, founder of the company OpenPHI, offers a solution called HealthAlbum, which gives patients a complete snapshot of their medical history, and can thus be taken from doctor to doctor and updated accordingly. The solution, which can run on top of SugarCRM, allows doctors to better diagnose and understand pre-existing conditions, but also allows a patient to access their own data via the Web. It’s a concept that would have seemed inconceivable 10 years ago…but is rapidly becoming a realistic reality thanks to open source