Open source health IT goes well beyond VistA

Black Duck estimates there are now nearly 900 open source projects with a health focus, a 13% increase from a year ago, estimating the value of the code base is up 25% from a year ago, to $8 billion.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

VistA, the health record system created by the Veterans Administration long before the term "open source" was even in use, is still the most-important element in open source health IT.

But it's far from the only one, according to a new analysis from Black Duck Software.

Black Duck estimates there are now nearly 900 open source projects with a health focus, a 13% increase from a year ago, estimating the value of the code base is up 25% from a year ago, to $8 billion.

(I've used this picture in the past while talking about Black Duck Software. I didn't want to remind anyone of the Gulf oil disaster today.)

Black Duck, which recently joined Open Health Tools, has compiled 10 of the most popular open source health IT projects out there. I compiled basic research on nine of them for this report.

In addition to VistA, the winners are:

Care2X, which is hosted at Sourceforge, bills itself as a full hospital management system using either mySQL or PostgreSQL and PHP, but it seems to have hit hard times. The main URL, care2x.org/, appears shuttered, most comments about it at Sourceforge are negative, and its developers appear to be spread around the globe.

OsiriXis an image processor for the Mac that is dedicated to the .DCM format used by a variety of commercial CT and MRI scanners. It was developed in Switzerland, and supports a plug-in architecture that allows users to expand it in order to fit their needs.

Biosignal Tools is a software library for processing signals from EEG and ECG devices using Matlab, Octave, C/C++ and Python. There's a standalone viewer supporting more than 30 different data formats. Lead developer Alois Schloegl contributed new code to it less than a week ago.

FreeMED is an electronic health record (EHR) system that runs on a common LAMP stack. There is both commercial and community support for the product. The 10-year old project has its own supporting foundation and forge site. It features a modular design and supports an external billing system.

OpenEMR is a complete medical practice suite, licensed under the GPL. It is multi-platform and includes systems to handle both billing and e-prescribing. Its most recent stable release came out in February. An appliance version running under VMWare is also available, operating as a sub-project, and the description includes installation documentation and screen shots.

DVTk (the lower-case k is important, or you're headed for a football game) is a testing suite that seeks to integrate imaging with HL7 documentation and IHE management standards.  It began in 1998 with code contributed by Philips, and is managed by a steering committee heavily influenced by Philips and Agfa, a Belgian multinational.

OGLE, the Open GLExtractor, is a general purpose program for re-using 3D data from Windows programs. It connects OpenGL library with a variety of 3D programs. Because this imaging system supports a variety of industries, including video games, it has a sizable community behind it, backed by EYEBEAM, a non-profit based in New York City.

HOSxP is a hospital management from Thailand (where it is probably getting a workout due to unrest) that currently runs in over 300 hospitals. Nearly a dozen upgrade files have been posted to Sourceforge in the last month. Its interface mimics Microsoft Windows regardless of the environment used and is available under the GPL.

OpenHMSis actually a collection of LGPL projects organized by Health Market Science, a Pennsylvania health information systems company. Most are libraries and utilities for reading out of databases.

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