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Washington Monthly on healthcare reform and open source

There’s a powerful cover story in the July/August issue of Washington Monthly entitled Code Red: How software companies could screw up Obama’s health care reform (Thanks to Maria Moore for the link).

washmonthcoverIn the article, Phillip Longman describes a few horrifying experiences hospitals have had trying to “go digital” using proprietary software. Here’s a particularly scary quote:

According to a study conducted by [the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh] and published in the journal Pediatrics, mortality rates for one vulnerable patient population—those brought by emergency transport from other facilities—more than doubled, from 2.8 percent before the installation to almost 6.6 percent afterward.

In the context of Dark Matter Matters, this story is interesting because it shows how an open source, community-driven effort led by the Veterans Health Administration has been able to not only innovate faster than its proprietary competitors, but also more deeply involve the end customers– the doctors, nurses, and other folks who actually use the software– in development of tools that work in real world situations.

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