What Obama promised open source health IT

What Obama promised open source health IT

Summary: What we need are policy statements favoring a "build" process over a "buy" process, and demanding open standards, preferably royalty-free standards, for government contracts. We don't have them yet, so the jury is still out on the Obama Administration and open source in health IT.


So far as I can tell, the President has promised open source a shot at health IT stimulus and government contracts.

He has not guaranteed anything.

George Lauer of iHealthBeat wrote last week that the President "chose" VistA and open source Connect for its military records program.

That is not the case.

Sun's work on the NHIN-CONNECT system was contracted for under the Bush Administration. The President promised to "link" the VA's current VistA system with the military's AHLTA system, and he promised our heroes interoperability, but that is all.

The same is true in the larger health IT stimulus plan, HITECH. CCHIT still controls functional requirements needed for certification, which in turn is needed to get paid. But as Fred Trotter notes, whether CCHIT will actually certify open source solutions remains unclear.

Important questions remain unanswered:

  1. Will VistA be upgraded or replaced with a proprietary system?
  2. Will AHLTA be moved to the VistA platform or just connect with it?
  3. What hoops will open source have to jump through in order to participate in HITECH?

So far, under the Obama Administration, open source has been riding momentum generated during the second Bush Administration.

Its acceptance by the military is based on performance under past contracts. VistA's survival seems to have depended more on Dr. Robert Kolodner, a Bush appointee, than anyone on the Obama team.

What open source seems to be getting from the Obama Administration is a shot, a chance, a foot in the door. But there is a big distance between being allowed to present and being given a contract.

Proprietary vendors, especially in the health care space, are experts at creating Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) concerning open source. They will offer government "proven solutions" while open source advocates will offer tools the government might build on.

If this now becomes a standard contracting process, in other words, open source can still be shut out. The other guys have more salesmen. They can schmooze whoever needs schmoozing, and grease whatever palms need greasing to get what they want.

What we need are policy statements favoring a "build" process over a "buy" process, and demanding open standards, preferably royalty-free standards, for government contracts.

We don't have them yet, so the jury is still out on the Obama Administration and open source in health IT.

Topics: Open Source, Health, Microsoft, Windows

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  • If Governement is not open source, then they are creating

    a monopoly that will bleed us all dry and provide an environment of big brother. The biggest problem with heath care is cost. Time to limit lawsuits and lower malpractice insurance. Time to put limits on payouts. No more keeping people alive beyond their ability to recover. People are not entitled to millions of dollars of free heath care, policies must have limits.
    • Patents and AMA are also contributing to healthcare costs

      Pharmaceuticals spend more on advertising than they do on R&D. Perhaps patent system is too generous. Do you really need an ad to tell you to take certain medicine if you have low white blood count cell due to chemo?

      And AMA artificially restricts supply of doctors and health care professionals which increases costs for rest of us.
      • Everything is on the table...

        At certain points in time everything goes on the
        table and the whole industry is re-negotiated.
        This is such a time. The 1993 Clinton effort was
        a failed negotiation.

        The last successful negotiations in health care
        were between large companies like Kaiser, then a
        steelmaker, in the 1930s, resulting in the
        present system.
  • Waste, inefficiecy and fraud

    What else do you expect D.C. to deliver?
    • Maybe win a war?

      That's what we used to do. Assuming things can't
      be done is the real enemy here.
  • The news of Oracle acquiring Sun may stop this Bush spending.

    It very well could go back to Sun.
    • huh?

      I don't get this.
  • It is hard to know what Obama will do untill he does it.

    Lot of people are disappointed with Obama because they were made to think that Obama is for certain position when in fact Obama was only talking about the issue in general and not committing to any one position. Even when Obama does make a position statement, it is usually vague and open for interpretation. And lastly, even when Obama does have a well publicized stance on an issue, when it comes to decision making time, Obama will be pragmatic, and not principled. I have found it best to wait for Obama to do something SIGNIFICANT, and just ignore his statements and symbolic actions.
    • You know what you just called him?

      FDR. "I agree with you. Now make me do it." The
      ability to not show your hand, so no one knows
      how to play off it, comes from the study of
      constitutional history. Lincoln also did it,

      Other Presidents, like Reagan, you know where
      they stand and they stand there. Bush Jr. tried
      to be Reagan.

      Then there are the know-it-alls, like Clinton,
      Carter and Bush Sr. They manuever, but in
      transparent ways.

      Of course, Obama could have just gotten the
      trait from playing poker with other State
      Senators (and lobbyists) in the 1990s.
      • The problem with Obama, is that you do not know whom you elected

        Now I am a big fan of compromise and pragmatism. Obama is also a brilliant analyst and can really get to the crux of the problem. I think Obama will be a great president.

        The downside is that a lot of people voted for Obama thinking that Obama supports certain set of positions when he does not. For this Obama needs to be criticized.

        But is more then just Obama being vague. The amount of BS this person produces is amazing. He recently [b]left the door open[/b] to [b]possible[/b] persecution of Bush officials for torture.

        Recently Obama - to great fan fare - announced that he has ordered $100 million dollars cut out of governments budget. Current government debt is about $37,000 per us citizen. Obama's order will save us a quarter and a nickel for every US citizen.

        You get the idea.
        • that's closing the barn door after the cows are out...

          You say kudos to Obama for desiring to cut spending...after he's spent a record amount in his first 100 days. Obama was quick to move on his own agenda once he got into office--just four days into office he sent massive amounts overseas for his own priority spending. Now he wants to cap spending...hmmm...something stinks in the state of Denmark--er, U.S. They say not everything promised in campaigns comes to fruition. Looks like Obama has delivered the majority of promises he's interested in fulfilling.
  • NT

  • obama is a liar and traitor to his oath of office

    can someone pleae show me where in the US Constitution that the federal goverment HAS THIS POWER????

    if we do NOT stop them, the govermemnt will continue to take and take and take power.

  • Iraq is done

    I don't know if you have heard but the Iraq war is done.
  • RE: What Obama promised open source health IT

    Obama is not a great analyst at all. I am suprised by his lack of intelligence. The order to shoot the pirates was derived after 17 meetings and 15 people had to approve it. That's how his administration meddles. He wants control of everything. not condusive to running a war.

    this latest waffle will hurt him. we will again cripple our intelligence community just like before 9/11.

    I hope he will be held accountable for his many gaffes after he leaves. bad precedence. once again he cannot concentrate on one thing. our economy is only going to get worse. unemployment figures came out for this month. 640,000 additional jobs lost. good job dems !
  • Correct !

    you are absolutely right. we are being run by a nanny state. they know better than us. don't you know that you are arrogant and have a lack of morals ? they want to join a UN committee that will dictate to us how to raise our kids. I will rot in hell before that happens.

    washington has forgotten how they work for. they circumvent the rules because the ends justify the means. they want to control every aspect of our lives. we need to fight back ! there will be more tea parties.....
  • Is it a technical forum or Fox News?!

  • Federal Employee

    The proprietary software we're reqired to use here is god awful. The biggest problem with it, is they can't get another better company to upgrade/fix it cause the current crap company owns it (and the contract). In order to get something better this office has to contract a whole new company to develope wholey new software - which we'll all be forced to waste time traning for.

    So, it's pretty apparent how open source can save the fed money. Maybe not directly on the development costs, but definately the indirect costs.