The health care sector is set for a technology-driven transformation as the federal government pushes adoption of electronic health records and pursues national health information exchange. Hardly surprising, the Open Source Convention (OSCON) has a health care track that will focus on open EHR/EMR software and the government’s standards-based Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) among other topics. What's in it for VARs? Here are some clues.

Resellers could find themselves involved in implementing or hosting open source health software. Building applications that take advantage of NHIN is another possibility.

So here’s a summary of what you can glean form OSCON 2010, slated to run July 19-23 in Portland, Ore.:
  • Open EHR: One discussion will focus on open source VistA (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture), one of the most widely used EHR systems. K.S. Bhaskar, senior vice president, Fidelity Information Services, Inc.; Ben Mehling, senior director, research and development, Medsphere Systems; and David Whiles, director of information systems, Midland Memorial Hospital, Midland, Texas, will provide an introduction to the technology. Bhaskar was a co-founder of WorldVistA, which aims to improve VistA for use beyond the VA. Mehling has been facilitating collaboration among clinicians, developers and business partners on OpenVista. Whiles managed the deployment of OpenVista at Midland Memorial Hospital.
  • Another session will target the modernization of VistA, which some observers contend is difficult to deploy and relies on outmoded technology. David Uhlman, chief executive officer of ClearHealth Inc. will discuss the lessons the company has learned from legacy technology and how it has adapted VistA’s strength into a Web-based practice managed and EMR system.
  • Also at OSCON, Fred Trotter, a consultant/advocate for open source health software, will talk about companies aiming to take VistA to the next level in his overview of open source health solutions. The talk will cover applications such as OpenMRS, OpenEMR, Tolven and ClearHealth.
  • NHIN: David Riley and Brian Behlendorf, both of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, will discuss CONNECT, an open source gateway for health information exchange. CONNECT uses NHIN standards to link up providers, insurers, and government entities.
  • Arien Malec, a contractor with the Office of the National Coordinator, will discuss NHIN Direct, an open government initiative that intends to promote public/private collaboration in the development of health information transport standards. Trotter, meanwhile, will also cover CONNECT and NHIN in his session.

Reality Check

Still, The VAR Guy's blog team wonders just how much momentum open source will gain in the health care industry -- especially as companies like gloStream attract VARs and MSPs onto a Microsoft-centric EMR platform.

We'll be listening to learn if OSCON attendees embrace the open source health care pitch.

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