10 Steps To Overcome Your Fear Of Using Open Source Software

Shahid Shah | MED Device Online | October 8, 2014

The entire Internet runs on open source software (OSS) and, if we used it more in medical devices, it would lead to reduced costs and increase the quality of devices. If you ask some regulatory affairs folks in medical device companies, they think OSS is too “dangerous” for use in safety critical systems. The most common excuse given by engineers is that the regulatory compliance folks will not allow OSS or that the FDA will disapprove. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, however, because the FDA hasn’t really rejected devices due solely to the use of OSS. The lack of OSS use in medical devices and healthcare IT circles in most cases likely stems from a lack of experience with OSS at the senior executive and regulatory compliance ranks within companies. This is a summary of a quick 10 step process that R&D groups can use to properly experiment with and include OSS in safety-critical systems.

1. Understand open source licensing, remove the fear of intellectual property (IP) loss.

One common fear is that using open source will “leak” your own IP or cause IP loss. However, open source licenses allow for inclusion of open software in your device(s) without harming your own IP rights or proprietary claims. There’s no need to fear that if you include open source you’ll accidentally relinquish proprietary IP...