2012 Open Source Think Tank Conference Exec Summary Released

The much awaited report on the 2012 Open Source Think Tank conference in Napa, CA has just been released. The Executive Summary of the report is available here. This report is of great significance as a major portion of this year's Think Tank was focused on the open source strategy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This year's Think Tank was a resounding success and demonstrated the same high level of enthusiasm and active and diverse participation as previous events. According to Megan DeGruttola editor of Open Source Delivers (one of our favorite websites), follow-up feedback shows that "the audience liked the mix of presentations, panel discussions, workshops and case studies."

As discussed at the Think Tank conference, the VA has embarked in an unprecedented effort to shift the development of their world-class electronic health record (EHR) system, VistA, to an open source development platform. To do this the VA created a "custodial agent" organization for the code, OSEHRA, which is now fully engaged in working with the open source community in the continuing development of VistA. As noted by VA CIO Roger Baker during the conference, the VA has allocated as much as $5 billion to continue the development and enhancement of VistA, which is recognized as the world's best hospital-based EHR, as an open source application. Shortly after the conference Open Health News published a detailed report on the conference that can be read here

One of the key recommendations the participants made to the VA was to hold regular conferences with the open source community. The VA and the OSEHRA custodial agent organization paid close attention and will be hosting its First Annual Open Source EHR Summit & Workshop October 17 and 18, 2012, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.`Andrew Aitken, Chair of the Open Source Think Tank conference is part of the program committee for the OSEHRA conference and will also be presenting the findings of the Think Tank conference in this venue.

The report on the 2012 Think Tank conference highlights these additional key recommendations from the brainstorm groups:

  • The permissive Apache license is a good choice, but open governance and solid code-base management by "committers" are also essential to building broader participation. Leverage OSS community experience to build these capabilities.
  • Modular architecture with well documented, language-agnostic APIs will make broader participation possible, and should be designed to enable web/cloud architectures.
  • Leverage cloud architecture and adoption trends to help build a commercial ecosystem.
  • Engage the broader, traditional open source community, not just those elements tied to government or healthcare.

For more details, the complete Executive Summary can be read here. The article VA To Invest Billions in Open Source Transition also contains a wealth of information on the conference as well as extensive background on VistA and teh VA's open source strategy.