Developers' Training Workshop Reinforces Global FOSS Healthcare Interoperability Agenda
Twenty-two individuals chosen among a pool of applicants from Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam participated in an intensive Developers’ Training Workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which was conducted in conjunction with the Open Source Health Care Alliance (OSHCA) 2007 Conference last 8 to 11 May 2007.
With speakers and presenters coming from Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America and Australia, the participant-trainees along with more than 100 delegates from various parts of the globe took an active part setting in motion a wide range of plans to initiate the collaboration, coordination and discussions among a global network of both FOSS and non-FOSS developers and healthcare professionals towards interoperability of healthcare applications. Intensification of the regional collaboration enabled new FOSS developers attending the conference to interact with experts. Groundwork for public-private partnerships has been laid down through the interaction of small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and FOSS health developers from different regions. Case studies, panel discussions, and concurrent sessions and workshops allowed everybody to share experiences on the successes and obstacles in the implementation of FOSS healthcare applications within their respective environments. Legal issues confronting FOSS developers, their liabilities and responsibilities were also discussed. A number of healthcare FOSS applications were presented such as health record management and health information systems, e.g., VistA, MyOSCAR, OpenMRS, Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS) (URL: http://www.chits.info), OpenEMPI, openEHR, PPOEHR, BuddyWorks, NetEpi, Care2x, and EpiHandy, among others.
The developers’ training workshop was conducted on the final day of the conference amidst a hectic schedule of daily parallel sessions from the onset. Centering on the conference theme, “Moving the FOSS Agenda for Health: Setting the Framework for Interoperability,” the training workshop strongly focused on orienting the trainees on health applications development and on means to comply with international standards for health information interoperability. Various programming tools and methodologies were presented with the aim of further assisting the trainees in the implementation of FOSS applications in their respective areas.
In an informal classroom-type setup, small group discussions had allowed the trainees to freely exchange ideas on issues on health information security, user authentication, and patient information transfer between private and public networks using a Virtual Private Network (VPN); and the standardization of enterprise desktop deployments utilizing Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) as well as presentations on development platforms like Python, Ruby on Rails and OpenMRS to develop various types of EMR systems. Hands-on sessions on VisTa and GT.M databases were also done. Experience sharing on the benefits and disadvantages on implementing open source applications in the commercial world was another topic of interest, which further posed the challenge in trying to adopt successful implementation of FOSS projects which can be interoperable with commercial proprietary software.
Overall, the conference-training workshop has proven to be a successful combination in paving the way to sustain current efforts to promote the FOSS agenda within the healthcare industry. It has also opened viable avenues of capacity-building and empowerment through the use of FOSS towards seamless and secured interoperability, which is strengthened further through collaborative initiatives among the various developers and end-users globally in the noble goal of delivering quality, safe and efficient yet cost-effective healthcare IT systems.
training workshop was funded and organized by the UNDP-APDIP’s
International Open Source Network (IOSN) (URL: http://www.iosn.net) and the Federal
Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (URL: http://www.bmz.de) through InWEnt
Capacity Building International, Germany (URL: http://www.inwent.org).
This activity is in line with InWEnt's it@foss project (URL: www.it-foss.net), which focuses on supporting the FOSS community of the ASEAN region and on promoting awareness of the opportunities of FOSS for local ICT development.