Future for Open Source Software

The Veterans Administration (VA) www.va.gov, other agencies, and industry are faced with how to use new technologies appropriately, how to incorporate new models of care appearing on the horizon, and deal with worldwide security challenges.

One of the advances in the field called “open source software” is providing new options to help agencies and industry meet some of the needs in healthcare. Today, some software has source code that only the person, team, or organization that created the software can modify. However, open source software is different because it can be modified and shared since the design is publicly available.

Open source software development results in lower product development costs, less time to reach the market, drives wider adoption of open source EHR technology, and enhances health IT interoperability by employing open standards, open APIs, and open data.

The health IT community gathered at the “Open Source Electronic Health Record Alliance” (OSEHRA) www.osehra.org Summit held in Bethesda Maryland on June 13-15, 2017 to discuss current news in the field and what has been successful in research and innovation as related to open source software

The speakers at the opening plenary session discussed healthcare and several talked about the importance for open source software to enter the cloud era. Susie Adams, Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft Federal www.microsoft.com commented, “Microsoft and others in the field know how important it is to not only invest in open source software, but also understand how vital it is to enter the cloud era since our new technological world revolves heavily around the cloud.”

To meet this need, Microsoft is implementing a proof of concept for VistA in the cloud which will include VA’s Electronic Health Management Platform (eHMP). The use of the combination of technologies will create a fully modern open source EHR system deployed as a cloud-platform. The project has been granted authority by VA to operate as FedRAMP High, which is the highest security rating available for government cloud computing.

Jonathan Bryce Executive Director for OpenStack www.opensack.org wonders if the use of open source software should enter the cloud era as a public or a private cloud. Perhaps the answer is to develop a hybrid model. As he said, “The overall goal is to build an open and collaborative platform to lower costs and achieve operational efficiency.”

Jonathan Entwistle, Big Data Platform Sales and Engineering for IBM Federal www.ibm.com, explained how IBM and Hortonworks have expanded their partnership to propel more Apache open source projects.

The companies are combining Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) with IBM’s data science experience and IBM Big SQL, to provide for a new integrated solution to deal with mounting data volumes in order to accelerate data-driven decision-making.

This partnership will provide for an integrated and open data science and machine learning platform designed to help developers’ model new business processes and data assets quickly and easily. Both companies will collaborate to advance Apache Spark which is the open source framework for processing and analyzing large data sets across clustered environments.

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