Black Duck Software Eyes Open Source Opportunities in Healthcare

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 10, 2009

Healthcare providers and the government have steadily been waking up to the significant cost savings and efficiency boosts that open source software and open systems can offer. Today Black Duck Software, which maintains a knowledgebase of more than 200,000 open source projects, has announced results of research it has done on estimating the cost savings that open source software can bring to healthcare organizations. The company used a cost estimation model called COCOMO to put some numbers on the opportunities that health care organizations have, which look to be promising.

Black Duck estimates that the nearly 800 existing healthcare open source software projects it has identified represent $6 billion of software development costs, and would require 31,000 staff years of development to replicate. "These projects represent a significant potential stimulus resource available to the healthcare industry," according to the announcement of the results.

Black Duck also identified some categories of healthcare software from its knowledgebase, where community contributions are strongest:

"Projects dealing with electronic health records management, practice management and VistA, the health care information management system developed by the US Veterans Administration, lead in project community activity. Projects such as PatientOS, a patient management system; OpenEMR; an electronic medical record application, and OpenVista, an open-source version of VistA, are among the most active health care projects in the open source community as tracked by the Black Duck KnowledgeBase."

Life science market research publisher Kalorama Information has studied the opportunities for electronic records systems in healthcare. It valued the market for electronic medial record systems at $575 million in 2008, and forecasts that growth in the sector will reach $1.6 billion in 2013.

"The Obama administration, in its proposed reform of the health care system, has earmarked billions of dollars of stimulus money to foster the adoption of electronic medical records in Medicare and Medicaid alone," said Eran Strod, director of product marketing, Black Duck Software. "Using open source software to meet this challenge -- and break the 'status quo' the president identified in his radio address on health care -- represents a significant opportunity to quickly implement electronic medical records systems at a drastically reduced cost to the country."

Black Duck also provides an interesting list of the top ten open source healthcare projects dealing with electronic medical records and practice management, here. They include Care2X, FreeMED, and more.

As the Obama administration seeks to overhaul the healthcare system and turns to open source solutions, it will undoubtedly help if open source advocacy groups and project leaders are vocal. We wrote about an Obama adminstration-driven open source healthcare software effort called Connect, here. It's a great example of an effort that needs evangelizing, including taking its message out to small medical offices and healthcare organizations.