Open Source Medicine

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From Humanitarian-FOSS Project Development Site

Contents

Open Source Medical Records: Easier Access to Medical Data

Background

After more than $60 million invested through local and state funding, Mayor Bloomberg announced on Monday that New York City was ready to equip doctors with computer software that would allow for doctors to more effectively track patient’s medical records.

The new system, an open source software package, allows doctors to move beyond paper charts by integrating a patient’s medical history, lab results and current medications into one electronic interface. The system will give up-to-date information to doctors through a series of alerts, such as overdue dates on prescriptions or blood tests. It will allow doctors to more effectively share data with other doctors, and provide easily accessible data on the most effective practices for treating different illnesses. The concept is that the software is free and the more doctors that participate, the more records and data that will be available as a result.

Goals

The hope is that the system will allow for a reduction in costs by eliminating expensive and often repetitive tests. The system will also allow for local health agencies to get general data from health care providers on everything from the best ways to control blood pressure to responses to certain medications, to the effectiveness of generic drugs vs expensive brand name prescriptions.

To encourage doctors to use the system, the city has paid for part of the expense of doctors to adopt it, including on-site training, maintenance and support and licenses. The electronic system, it is hoped, will allow for a more effective reimbursable system, as it will allow the government to give incentives to doctors to lower health care costs for comparable results.

Potential Disadvantages

Like the Thompson article, there are some notable limitations. Like the elite version of Intellipedia, there are accessibility issues. The system is only being implemented in New York, which means it is not universally applicable. Also, the software is only currently free for doctors who have 30% of patients insured by Medicare or Medicaid. As a result, a comparison across the board is not possible, and those that are treated with the most expensive of medications may not be considered in the studies, potentially compromising the quality of care. Also, there are broad concerns about potential leaks, because as medical records are accessible to more people, the more likely it will be spread.

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