Is Open-Source Software the Right Solution For Your Hospital, Health System, or Physician Group?

February 24, 2016
Ken Rickard

Ken Rickard, Director of Professional Services at Palantir.net

“Medicine, like science, depends on the free exchange of information to produce the best outcomes for patients,” says Ken Rickard. “Software should be designed with the same goal in mind.”

Rickard is the Director of Professional Services at Chicago-based consulting and development firm Palantir.net. He believes software decisions are a crucial element of healthcare strategy. “Software powers everything from health system websites (content management systems—CMS) to diagnostic equipment. It stores patient records, provides communications infrastructure, and creates and distributes marketing campaigns (marketing automation, customer relationship management—CRM).”

Discussions of open-source vs. proprietary software unfortunately tend to devolve “into attacks on one approach or the other, often characterized as FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt),” Rickard says. “One example is the incorrect statement that open source licenses mean you can’t own any software you produce that interacts with open source. Another is the false assertion that open source software is by nature less (or more) secure.”

Rickard says organizations should consider five key issues when making a choice between open source and proprietary solutions:

1. Freedom 
“The most critical question of your software is: Does it help me do the job that needs to be done? Good software enables people to perform better. It provides the freedom to extend the software, either via APIs or open source code, and to own the rights to use those extensions,” Rickard says.

2. Commitment
“Open source software frequently runs on community contributions such as money, time, or expertise,” notes Rickard. “You need to factor this aspect of open source into your software decisions. Do you have the resources to devote to supporting the software? If not, is your goal to encourage adding the needed resources within your organization? For example, a 1,000-person organization may need to dedicate three full-time employees to supporting an open source application.”

For Rickard’s take on the other three factors to consider, including the advantages that can accrue to your organization with the right software choices, read the full article now: Open Source or Proprietary? 5 Key Issues to Consider.

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey
President

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