Open-source global IT health programme launched

An open-source organisation has launched a global programme to develop interoperable platforms for electronic healthcare
Written by Adrian Bridgwater, Contributor

An open-source specialist has launched an international project between national health agencies and government-funded organisations to develop interoperable platforms for electronic healthcare products and services.

Open Health Tools (OHT), based in the US, announced its Health Interoperability Framework on Tuesday, which will see the organisation work with international standards bodies, governments and companies from the UK, Australia, Canada and the US to develop common healthcare IT products and services.

According to an official statement, Open Health Tools's mission is to provide software tools and components that will "accelerate the implementation of interoperability platforms responsible for storing and sharing electronic health information".

OHT said the results of its current design and development work will be available under an open-source agreement for IT healthcare professionals in participating countries.

According to the American Institute of Medicine: "Every year at least 98,000 Americans die and millions more are injured as a result of medical errors." OHT's health interoperability framework will aim to address this situation by using standardised, open interfaces and a set of reusable software components that can be assembled into systems and products by health systems and vendors.

"Advancements in medical procedures and patient care have changed the way the world views health and wellness. However, modern healthcare information technology has not kept pace with the complexity of today's healthcare systems. There is a critical need for interoperability between healthcare systems and the consistent and seamless exchange of accurate data," said Skip McGaughey, executive director of OHT.

OHT's development processes and practices are based on open-source specialist Eclipse Foundation's model, and the results of member efforts are being made available under a commercially friendly open-source licence. OHT said it aims to assemble and develop a comprehensive set of tools to enable the development and deployment of EHRs.

OHT said any individual, organisation or hospital can build applications using its framework free of charge. Many of the founding members of the OHT framework have entrusted key interoperability projects to be developed as Charter Projects under the OHT umbrella.

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