SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Building on its worldwide leadership in the open source software movement, Oregon State University (OSU) today announced a new global collaborative effort to develop open source software solutions for the health information community.

The collaboration, called Open Health Information Project (OHIP), underscores the commitment of OSU’s Open Source Lab (OSL) to the successful adoption and use of open source software methodologies in the public sector. The university will partner with a half dozen leading public and private institutions, with a project goal to provide open source solutions to healthcare providers, including secure means to share patient information.

“Today, open source offers the possibility – and increasingly the reality – of having multiple widely dispersed organizations and agencies collaborate on a world-wide project, generating constant improvement for the good of their communities in a cost effective way,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “I am convinced that OSU’s work in open source software holds the potential for some of our greatest contributions to our state, our nation and the world, and this project is a perfect example.”

The growing complexity of health information and the challenges posed by exchanging health information among hospitals, doctors, pharmacies and other care providers, creates a pressing need for information technology systems capable of supporting these providers in an efficient, cost-effective manner. By offering the timely delivery of relevant patient information and decision-support resources to the point of care, early OHIP pilot projects will aggregate major open source code sets (software) and demonstrate the value of the open source approach in resolving existing problems in the health information technology field.

This leading-edge open source collaboration, which includes the Mayo Clinic as the first of a number of code contributors, is envisioned as an extension of the Eclipse Open Healthcare Framework (OHF). The Eclipse OHF works to improve the levels of interoperability between applications and systems within and across healthcare organizations and regions.

Key industry IT leaders and initial OHIP contributors of health information code (applications or tools) to the project include:

  • CollabNet – will manage the collaborative open source development process over the entire code base lifecycle, including contribution, access, revision control, bug management and release distribution.
  • Palamida – will processes the code base to assure that intellectual property policies are enforced (this is essential when the code base is to be incorporated into commercial product offerings).
  • OSU Open Source Lab – will provide the aggregation, hosting and management of the code repository, including the CollabNet and Palamida servers, and overall data center management.
  • Innoopract – will contribute its experience and technology in the space of bundling and integration of software components. Automation in assembly and management of deployments are further areas of Innoopract's expertise that will help to build solutions from a network of software from different manufacturers.
  • Mayo Clinic – will participate through its Division of Biomedical Informatics, where work is based on Lexical Grid (LexGrid) technologies. LexGrid provides support for a distributed network of lexical resources, such as terminologies and ontologies via standards-based tools, storage formats and access/update mechanisms. The Mayo Clinic’s participation, in essence, will provide a “medical vocabulary search engine” for the project.

OSU joined Eclipse as an associate member in February of this year. “The Eclipse community’s dedication to solving problems facing the healthcare industry and the patients it serves through open and effective use of information technology is admirable,” said OSU Vice Provost for Information Services Curt Pederson. “We are pleased to join and support the community that is hard at work on the open source infrastructure service components of healthcare information systems that offer little or no commercial competitive advantage. By collaborating, we hope to free resources for more valuable investments. This aligns with our non-profit public service mission and serves to strengthen the value of the OSU Open Source Lab to our citizens.”

“The Eclipse Foundation and Oregon State University have long shared a vision of community building, and we welcome them to Eclipse,” said Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse Foundation executive director. “OSU's Open Source Lab stands with the pioneers of the open source community through early, critical support of important open initiatives. By joining us today, they contribute significantly to our ecosystem. We are pleased OSU is bringing the open source health information technology community together on this newest and important initiative, the Open Health Information Project.”

“We are excited about the prospects offered by the Open Health Information Project to further the development and accessibility of open source software in the healthcare industry," said Dr. Christopher G. Chute, M.D., Dr.P.H., chair of Biomedical Informatics at Mayo Clinic. “As active participants in the open source community, we welcome the opportunity to work with others and look forward to contributing.”

“CollabNet has been a leader in promoting global collaboration and open source standards for eight years. We are excited to be part of OHIP and support its vision for a secure health information system with universal access,” said Martin Doettling, chief marketing officer at CollabNet.

Drawing on the industry’s largest and most comprehensive compliance library, Palamida is dedicated to ensuring the safe and seamless contribution of outside code in adherence with internal compliance, risk and use polices, enabling organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and others to soon follow in adding their code into the code base. Palamida’s CEO Mark Tolliver said, “We are excited to join Oregon State University’s efforts in this very important pilot project. Palamida is deeply committed to enabling the safe and confident use of open source in the development of healthcare software solutions and strongly supports the creation of a collaborative infrastructure for the secure and timely delivery of patient information.”

“Innoopract has been striving to adopt the Eclipse success model of open source and collaborative development to vertical initiatives,” said Jochen Krause, CEO of Innoopract. “We are looking forward to collaborating with key industry leaders to provide better health, safety and efficiencies to the world wide healthcare community.”

“Our public sector program was seeded by our commitment to the sector and rooted in the expertise and reputation earned through hosting important non-for-profit open source projects such as Firefox and the Linux kernel,” said Deborah Bryant, OSL Public Sector Communities Manager and OHIP director for OSU. “We jumped at the opportunity to affect positive contributions to the public through this innovative health information project.”

Bryant credits the unique, leading edge technical and community support expertise of the Lab, coupled with education and active outreach to public sector IT leadership through the university’s successful Government Open Source Conference as key to attracting the project to Oregon.

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Deborah Bryant,