OSEHRA & EHR: Finding Value in Open Source EHR

Kyle Murphy | EHRIntelligence.com | July 16, 2012

Over the past two decades, the open source movement has gained momentum and many of champions provide valuable services to the entire internet community (e.g., Wikimedia). But the practice is not without its detractors. “When it comes to open source,” explains OSEHRA President and CEO Seong K. Mun, PhD, “many think of it as free and therefore no good or unreliable.” And that’s just the layperson’s opinion. Imagine how doctors, some of the most skeptical professionals around, respond when presented with the idea of an open source electronic health record (EHR).

Enter the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA) and its mission to be an agent of change in healthcare through the development of an open source community around the government-created Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) EHR. For the past year, Mun has led the organization through its creation of a new code repository and quality certification process with the ultimate aim of facilitating the ongoing development and refinement of open EHR systems.

With federal funding and the support of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), OSEHRA challenges the US government’s traditional approach to publishing technology, “the museum approach.” According to Mun, in this method the government produces a technology, releases it to the public, and leaves it to users to continue its development.  The establishment of OSEHRA represents a novel approach by the US government that embraces open source innovation...