Saturday, October 10, 2009

(Ask Your Kids) Open Source Is the Future

Supporting open source software as an alternative to proprietary systems is increasing becoming a global government initiative to ensure consumer protection and customer advocacy. However, the Ontario government seems to have missed the point.

This article from the Joanne Frketich of The Hamilton Spectator identifies what is missing - the will of the patients, practitioners, and bureaucrats to force the system to change.

OSCAR is one of several electronic health systems approved by the Ministry of Health, and is used by more than 600 doctors in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

It's not the most popular of the electronic health systems but it uses open source technology, making it much cheaper than others because the university doesn't make a profit.

"People can use it and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get it and modify it," said Kevin Leonard, a scientist with the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation at Toronto's University Health Network.

He has no doubt McMaster could deliver as promised within 24 months for around $20 million.

"It would be in the ballpark," he said. "I think that statement would be true. But the problem is, we don't have the will. Someone has to have the will."

He believes patients are going to have to get much more demanding before the government will make real progress on electronic health records.

He hopes public outrage over the ongoing eHealth scandal, which saw the province spend 10 years and $1 billion in a largely failed effort to create digital health records, will be enough to force change.

After a billion dollars of wasted money, it is no longer acceptable to hide behind the fact that they don't understand open source.

It's easy folks... Ask your kids!

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