MOSS Gives Medical Data-Sharing a Dose of Open Source

New software from Misys Open Source Solutions (MOSS) promises to provide what could be the world’s first fully open source, standards-based platform for exchanging health information.

The Misys Connect Exchange software was demonstrated and successfully tested last week in Chicago at IHE Connectathon, the healthcare industry’s weeklong interoperability testing event.

The result, MOSS said, will represent the first time all the software needed to exchange electronic files in a healthcare community will be made freely available in open source.

‘Meaningful Use’ Requirements

“Today is the realization of a complex two-year development project,” said Tim Elwell, vice president of MOSS.

Providers can only meet government “meaningful use” requirements if they can electronically exchange patient information across the community with “cross-enterprise user assertion,” Elwell added. “The MOSS release will enable that exchange at a much lower price point.”

Funding and collaboration on the effort came from Hartford Hospital.

A Week of Testing

IHE, or Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, is an initiative by healthcare professionals and industry to improve the way computer systems in healthcare share information.

Toward that end, IHE Connectathons give participating vendors an opportunity test their technologies’ ability to exchange information with complementary systems from other vendors.

In the test of the new Misys software, Connectathon examination monitors reviewed and passed two core server-side components that help to give an exchange operator the ability to identify a patient uniquely and exchange that patient’s clinical information across disparate systems. Such systems could include hospitals, provider offices, labs and diagnostic centers in a community, MOSS explained.

Any record that has been requested is then tracked for auditing purposes, MOSS said. In addition, the resulting health information exchange can be implemented in a centralized or decentralized way, depending on the specific requirements of the community, it noted.

Open Health Tools Forge

MOSS is also awaiting final approval on another test geared toward authenticating cross-enterprise users across different communities.

Misys Connect Exchange is offered under the Apache v. 2.0 license and may be downloaded at the Open Health Tools forge through the MOSS Web site.

The standards-based MOSS suite of open source technology also provides the capability for local communities to share patient records with the Nationwide Health Information Network.

‘A Great Test Case’

The new technology does indeed represent a “first,” Virginia Cardin, a senior healthcare consultant at research firm Frost & Sullivan, told LinuxInsider.

“Even though supposedly these systems are vendor-neutral, a lot of times that’s not the case,” particularly in their early days, Cardin explained.

Security has also been an issue in such technologies, she added, but Misys appears to have “worked that out.”

Misys Connect Exchange, then, “is a great test case that will be open and available to all of the systems,” she said.

The ‘Formalization’ of FOSS

Companies such as Misys, Medsphere and Collaborative Software Initiative are “a few examples of vendors looking to leverage the benefits of open source — cost savings, flexibility, collaborative development — in the healthcare industry,” Jay Lyman, an analyst for enterprise software with the 451 Group, told LinuxInsider.

“This is part of a trend I describe as the ‘formalization’ of open source software that is affecting healthcare, financial services, government and other IT markets,” Lyman noted.

“While open source previously crept quietly into enterprise and large IT organizations through developers and teams, organizations — particularly public sector ones and those in industries such as healthcare — are now more formally and officially adopting and using open source software through increased governance and policy efforts,” he explained.

Such adoption makes good sense, Lyman added.

“Open source software often fits the needs of these organizations,” he pointed out. “Vendors are wisely using it to respond to compliance and regulatory incentives and penalties, as is the case with electronic records.”

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