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LinuxMedNews.com--Just What the Doctor Ordered - page 3

The (Un)Likely Marriage of Linux and Medical News

  • May 5, 2005
  • By Rob Reilly

"You cannot imagine how chaotic and expensive medical record software is and always has been. Linux and FOSS EMR's (electronic medical records) are likely to be the great unifier of this chaos as well as dramatically lowering its cost," Valdes said.

When asked about how the profit driven Medical community will work with the Open Source community, he had this to say.

"The software as service vs. the software as property model is likely to work well in medicine. Judging by past history, every combination, quality, hybrid, style, size and price of medical software will be concurrently available. Medicine is notoriously standards and market forces proof. That is how it is now and that is likely how it will continue to be for the near future. Legislation, of which I have no knowledge or anticipation of, may change this with desirable and un-desirable side effects."

He also thought that free and open source would have the biggest effect on EMR, including client/server systems and administration.

"Linux/Open Source is already the standard in bioinformatics and other research," Valdes said.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Valdes said that many areas of medicine are not computable. NP-hard problems (non-deterministic Polynomial-time hard) are common and will resist any efforts to computerize. Valdes said that these problems are so complex that they cannot be solved by a computer in time for the result to be usable. And, he's seen many people in medicine that don't understand this.

Valdes also said that there are challenges ahead for open source and Linux, in the medical community. He said that "More functionality and more quality in the form of easy of use, speed, reliability, compatibility and installation is always an issue and is a moving target."

"These are true for proprietary systems as well. FOSS systems have long term advantages that make it a preferred choice in my mind to proprietary systems. All of them are direct results of licensing such as the GNU GPL. The specific rights of being able to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software are very powerful and cannot be under-estimated in a setting such as medicine," he said.

No doubt there are many challenges, as well as, opportunities in the marriage of Linux and the medical field.

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